Nemanja Vidic will return to first-team action in Manchester United's game against Sunderland at the weekend - and boss Sir Alex Ferguson is delighted to have his skipper back in the fold.
Vidic, 31, has made just 10 Premier League appearances since the start of the 2011-12 season due to two knee injuries, but he is now ready to play his first game since the Champions League victory over Galatasaray three months ago.
United have been fragile at the back for most of the season, keeping only four clean sheets in all competitions, and will hope Vidic will help to shore things up.
"It would have been crazy to play him against City but against Sunderland... definitely," Sir Alex was quoted as saying in the Sun. "It's a big bonus to have him back. He is a real competitor with that uncompromising way of his. He likes defending - that's what it is.
"In the last 18 months he has only had 10 games or something. It is not many games he has played. At the start of last season he got injured in the first game against West Brom and was out for six weeks.
"Now he has no pain in the knee - and it's a different knee to the one he did his cruciate on. Last time he made the point himself - we went to examine it and he had to have the cartilage out."
Vidic returns as the Premier League enters the busy festive period, but Sir Alex is confident the Serbia international is ready to handle it.
"He's under pressure isn't he?" Sir Alex added. "But he'll make a difference, absolutely. He gives us the options. And to have senior players like that, it's helpful."