Pep Guardiola has confirmed that Aymeric Laporte has rejoined training with Manchester City, although he stopped short of naming a return date for the injured defender.
Subsequent examinations revealed significant damage to his knee and Laporte was forced to undergo surgery on the joint, ruling him out for the rest of 2019.
In that time Guardiola has been desperately short of options at the back, with City as a result falling far behind runaway leaders Liverpool in the race for the Premier League title.
But Pep had good news to share on Friday as he confirmed his charge had returned with his colleagues.
"Yesterday (Thursday) was the first time he had been training 10-15 minutes with the team and today again," the City boss told reporters when quizzed on the ex-Athletic enforcer.
"The rest [he did] individually and he is getting better. He feels good - I think next week he will complete all the training sessions with us.
Despite that boost, Guardiola is still uncertain over when Laporte will be available for selection.
"His first-team return? You think about it but I think he will dictate with how he feels, he has been out for four months and needs time so it is not like he can immediately play 90 minutes," he added.
"What is important is he has not had any setbacks during his time out - the same with Leroy [Sane] - and that is incredibly good. I’m grateful to the physios."
Uneven so far in the Premier League after their all-conquering 2018-19 campaign, City now turn their attentions to the FA Cup, where Port Vale lie in wait.
The League Two side go into Saturday's game at the Etihad Stadium as rank outsiders, but Pep will not be taking them lightly.
"It’s a knockout game, anything can happen. The schedule has been incredible, to not have to travel and play at home will be a big advantage," he said.
"I’ve said many times we try to take every competition seriously."