Crewe Alexandra midfielder Ryan Colclough is poised for a return to action to bolster their battle against relegation from League One.
A succession of injuries, coupled with off-field problems, have kept him out of the game for the past 16 months.
But Colclough, 20, played the full 90 minutes and scored for the Under-21s in a 3-2 home loss to QPR on Monday night.
"Ryan is well on the road to being closer to the first-team squad," Crewe boss Steve Davis told BBC Radio Stoke.
"We wanted to see if he could get through another 90 minutes. He completed that and played well. We will assess him this week before we decide whether he travels to Sheffield with us."
|The Alex back in the drop zone|
|Three straight defeats in which they conceded eight goals in two games to League One's top two Bristol City and Preston, before losing 1-0 at home to Oldham, have plunged Crewe back in the relegation zone - with eight games left.|
If Colclough does make the Crewe squad for Saturday's trip to Bramall Lane to face Sheffield United, it will be his first game since appearing as a late substitute in their 2-1 home defeat by Port Vale in November 2013.
"I'm feeling great and haven't felt the injuries," he said. "I'm just happy to be back playing and looking to get more game time.
"The enjoyment of playing will never go away. I've had four Under-21 games now and played the full 90 minutes in the last two.
"Hopefully, I can keep putting in the performances and it won't go unnoticed. l just want to do my bit for the team and, if I get my chance, I'll definitely be up for it."