Manchester United captain Nemanja Vidic believes he has a long road ahead of him this season before he returns to full fitness.
The centre-back helped United keep a clean sheet in Saturday's 2-0 home win over West Bromwich Albion, his second game back in the side following his three-month absence with a knee injury.
That shutout was only United's fourth in the league this season, and helped the Red Devils maintain their seven-point lead over champions Manchester City at the top of the table.
However, having only played a dozen league matches since the start of last season due to the long-standing problems with his cruciate ligaments, the Serbia international remains cautious in how he handles his current recovery.
"The doctor is managing the games I am playing at the moment,'' he told MUTV. "Over the first two or three months I have to really look at that because sometimes I might have a reaction. This is a process I have to go through.
"I am glad I have managed to play after three months. It is nice to be on the pitch and playing games. Hopefully I can play more often so I can build my form and play better."
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson hailed United's defensive effort against the Baggies, and acknowledged Vidic's part in his side keeping their first clean sheet in more than a month.
"They all defended crosses very well," he said. "They kept pumping it then we decided to put in [Chris] Smalling alongside Nemanja and Jonny Evans and bring Antonio [Valencia] back. We were competing with all the crosses and did very well.
"West Brom dominated in the second half and kept pumping the ball into our box. They did very well and we did that better than we have done all season.
"The pitch was a problem with the way we pass. It slowed our game down a bit. We did well in the first-half and dominated that.
"But credit to West Brom. They had more of the game in the second-half and were a threat with their crosses."
As well as Vidic, United have also been boosted by the return of Japan playmaker Shinji Kagawa, who made his first appearance in two months having also been sidelined with a knee injury.
"Shinji did very well in the first-half," Ferguson said. "We expected him to tire as it was his first game for several months. I'm very pleased with Shinji. He is a good footballer who worked really hard."