Sir Alex Ferguson believes Alan Smith will be back in action by the beginning of September.
Smith is recovering from the broken leg and dislocated ankle he suffered during the FA Cup defeat at Liverpool in February.
Smith has now abandoned his crutches and even managed a light jog round Manchester United's Carrington training complex last week as he continued his recovery from the horrific double leg break he suffered during the FA Cup defeat at Liverpool in February.
The £6million former Leeds star has been reluctant to put a timescale on his comeback, knowing just how delicate the recovery process can be.
However, while Ferguson does not expect the 25-year-old to be back in time to play a significant part in United's pre-season campaign, he does think a September return is a realistic proposition.
'Alan may be a bit late for the start of the season but I would think he will be back towards the beginning of September,' Ferguson told Manchester United Radio.
'He still has a bit of a limp but he was out on the training ground last week walking around and went for a little jog.'
The injury has certainly not dampened Smith's spirits. The Yorkshireman remains his usual chirpy self, even though he will be working throughout the summer having had any thoughts of being in England's World Cup party banished on that grim day at Anfield when he launched himself forward in an attempt to stop a John Arne Riise free-kick.
'He has an amazing philosophy and approach to his recovery,' said Ferguson.
'It doesn't bother him at all. There is no mental block. He will be back all right.'