Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has not entirely ruled Rio Ferdinand out of Wednesday's Champions League clash with Chelsea, but the deposed England captain is more likely to return from injury next weekend.
Ferdinand has not made an appearance since suffering a calf problem in the warm-up prior to the Barclays Premier League defeat at Wolves at the beginning of February, but the 32-year-old has resumed training this week and, so far, come through without a reaction.
"Rio has started training," said Ferguson ahead of Saturday's clash with West Ham. "He has only been training two days and then just a light session (on Friday). I have to decide whether we bring in him on Saturday, or give him a day off and start him on Wednesday again. He is more likely to be fit for Fulham."
Yet Ferguson may ultimately conclude it is worth taking a gamble given none of his other injured defenders will be back to face Chelsea, whilst a few may be available for Fulham.
Rafael, John O'Shea and Wes Brown could all tackle Mark Hughes' men. But none of that trio will make the trip to Stamford Bridge, when Jonny Evans will be available as he serves a three-match domestic ban.
None of this helps his team selection on Saturday, when Ferguson accepts filling the right-back slot is going to be a major issue.
"We have to solve that and find the right solution," he said.
It seems almost certain Brazilian Fabio will fill the void, with Chris Smalling partnering skipper Nemanja Vidic in central defence.
At least Ferguson finally has options in midfield. Park Ji-sung could make his first start since he left for Asian Cup duty in Qatar, whilst Anderson is likely to be on the bench at Upton Park after recovering from a knee injury it was initially suggested would rule him out for the season.
However, Darren Fletcher is still troubled by a virus, whilst Owen Hargreaves' United career now looks to be at an end following the shoulder problem he picked up in training.
Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.