Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed Wayne Rooney is just over a week away from returning to action after making good progress in his recovery from a severe thigh gash.
Rooney suffered the injury in United's 3-2 win over Fulham on August 25 when Hugo Rodallega's studs punctured his skin and left the striker in agony as blood gushed from the deep wound.
The nasty nature of the injury meant United were unsure how quickly the England striker could return.
Rooney had been reportedly ready to feature ahead of schedule in United's win over Galatasaray in midweek but in the end he didn't play and Ferguson also refuted suggestions that he could face Liverpool this Sunday.
However, the former Everton star has been keeping fit while out of action and will be back in training this week as he prepares for a possible return in United's clash against Tottenham next week.
"There were reports in the paper about Rooney being possible for that (Galatasaray) but that was not the case. He is not far away though, possibly the following week he will be fine," Ferguson said on Friday.
"He is doing a lot of great fitness training. He has done all the hard work, it is just a matter of getting him into football training."
While Rooney is on the mend, United's England winger Ashley Young has been ruled out for two to three weeks with a knee cartilage injury.
The 27-year-old missed out on the England squad for the World Cup qualifying double-header against Moldova and Ukraine earlier this month and Ferguson now expects to be without Young until October.
Meanwhile, Darren Fletcher did make his return against Galatasaray after a long absence, but will not be involved against Liverpool according to the United manager.
Fletcher has struggled for 10 months with a chronic bowel condition that kept him sidelined from action and even training as his career hung in the balance.
| Fletcher (R) returned to first team action against Galatasarary in the Champions League [AFP]
But now he appears to have controlled it and could play a big part this season for United.
The Scotland midfielder will play in United's League Cup tie against Newcastle next week before making his Premier League return against Tottenham.
"Fletcher won't start on Sunday, but he will certainly play against Newcastle and that is the perfect game for him to start back," Ferguson said.
"Then we have the game against Tottenham and he could be involved in that. It depends on how he does on Wednesday. It will be his first 90 minutes since 10 months out. It's a big one for him.
"He is handling the condition at the moment, as we saw the other night he is looking fine. It is a matter of hoping the condition stays dormant and he is handling his diet well. Hopefully he gets that break."
United travel to Anfield on Sunday where a tribute is expected pre-match to mark the recent report which exonerated Liverpool fans from any blame for the Hillsborough stadium disaster in 1989.
Ferguson is wary that the event could have a similar effect on his side as in 2008 when United marked the 50th anniversary of the Munich Air Crash before their clash with Manchester City and lost the game in a subdued manner.
He said: "That is a possibility, I don't deny that. Human nature can be that way. The players for instance when we played Man City in the 50th anniversary, the place was so flat.
"Even in the dressing room, I felt it before the game, we could not perform. I was just happy to get over it. It was such an emotional day for us."