Wilfried Zaha has returned to a "modified" form of training ahead of Crystal Palace's upcoming meeting with Chelsea on Saturday [10 March], but it remains to be seen if he will be fit enough to play any part in the Premier League London derby at Stamford Bridge.
Arguably relegation-threatened Palace's most influential performer with the club having been defeated in all nine of the matches he has missed so far this term, winger Zaha has not played at all since damaging knee ligaments during a 1-1 draw with Newcastle United at Selhurst Park on 4 February.
He is the most costly casualty of an injury epidemic that has left Roy Hodgson without up to 12 first-team players for some fixtures and lamenting one of the worst such crises he has experienced during his 42 years in management.
Zaha has persistently been said to be ahead of schedule in his recovery, with Hodgson revealing before another last-gasp defeat to Manchester United on Monday [5 March] evening - one that saw Palace blow a two-goal lead to remain in the relegation zone and extend their winless run to six matches - that the Ivory Coast international was "still mainly doing straight running" but not "doing the more complicated twisting, turning and contact with other players yet".
The 25-year-old later posted pictures of himself working with a ball on social media and it has now been confirmed that he took part in an altered first-team training session on Thursday.
A patient Hodgson will wait to see how Zaha feels after another light run out in Beckenham tomorrow before deciding if he can feature against Chelsea this weekend, stressing the need to avoid rushing back such an important player too soon.
"He was able to join in with the team for the first time in a modified session, it's enormous progress considering he is so far ahead of schedule," Hodgson told reporters at his pre-Chelsea press conference.
"We have to be careful as it was a serious injury. We'll see how he feels tomorrow, which will also be a light session. It's a remarkable recovery, but we don't think he'll be able to come back like the Wilf Zaha he was before the injury after two modified sessions.
"All teams rely upon their decisive players, so when you have a player out for any length of time there's always a risk you'll push for him to come back earlier than he should. That's the balance I've got to get right."
Palace will remain without the likes of Chelsea loanee Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Julian Speroni, Bakary Sako, Scott Dann, Jason Puncheon and Connor Wickham against Antonio Conte's fifth-place side, while there was no further update on the fitness of Yohan Cabaye and Joel Ward.
Centre-back Mamadou Sakho is expected to join Zaha in training tomorrow, but it appears that his return from a calf strain is not imminent.
"Mamadou Sakho should train with us tomorrow, I'm told," Hodgson added. "But he's been out for weeks now, [so still a while before he's back]."