Manchester United defender Marcos Rojo has responded positively to early rehabilitation on his damaged shoulder and is well on course to return during a busy period of festive fixtures, finally giving beleaguered Red Devils boss Louis van Gaal a welcome boost on the injury front.
Rojo dislocated his shoulder in the Manchester derby just under three weeks ago, a problem that was initially expected to rule the Argentine international out until 2015.
The 24-year-old has managed to avoid surgery on his shoulder though and began light gym work at United's Carrington training ground last week, with The Sun reporting that he's tentatively targeting the Liverpool game on December 14th for a return to action.
Van Gaal desperately needs Rojo back
Rojo's encouraging injury update may bode well in the long-term for United, but how Van Gaal could do with his £16 million summer signing this weekend for a blockbuster Premier League showdown against Arsenal.
Van Gaal is without no fewer than nine first-team regulars for Saturday's trip to the Emirates, with Rojo joined on the sidelines by fellow centre-backs in Jonny Evans and Phil Jones.
Even short-term options are ruled out
To compound the misery of Man United fans across the world even experienced players tasked with deputising for Rojo at centre-back have also picked up injury problems during the international break.
Michael Carrick picked up a groin problem training for England last week, while £14m Dutch international Daley Blind suffered a more serious knee ligament complaint in Holland's clash with Latvia on Sunday night.
Both men have been used as emergency centre-back cover in recent weeks, but will both definitely not be part of the United squad that travels to North London this weekend.
That means Paddy McNair and Chris Smalling will almost certainly be the pairing tasked with keeping Alexis Sanchez and co. quiet at the Emirates, a daunting task in a fixture that could go a long way towards defining United's season.