MICHAEL Duberry is set to make his playing return next week in a friendly specially organised by Oxford United.
The 37-year-old has not played this season after undergoing neck surgery in August.
But after getting the all-clear from specialists last month the centre back is nearing a comeback for the first team.
To help ease the former Chelsea and Leeds defender back the U’s are hoping to give him a run-out in a game next Thursday.
If all goes well it will see Duberry considered for selection, possibly as early as next Saturday’s trip to Morecambe.
United manager Chris Wilder said: “He will train on Monday and Tuesday, but he needs the confidence of the contact in a game, so we’ll organise one next week.
“He will play and hopefully he’ll come through it, if he’s involved at Morecambe then great, but if not then most definitely for the Fleetwood game (on December 22).”
The extent of injuries to Andy Whing and Jon-Paul Pittman should finally become clear in the next 24 hours.
Both suffered injuries in the 3-3 draw at Accrington Stanley last weekend which could, in the worst case scenario, rule them out for the rest of the season.
They have had scans, but need to be seen by specialists and the results should be known imminently.