Newcastle skipper Alan Shearer could this week be given the green light to launch his bid for a derby day return.
United's medical staff will contact Shearer's American specialist Dr Richard Steadman at the end of this week to discuss the progress of his rehabilitation from knee surgery.
Both player and manager Bobby Robson are keeping their fingers crossed that the 30-year-old will be allowed to step up his training.
Shearer and injured colleagues Kieron Dyer, Rob Lee, Carl Cort and Andy Griffin, have all been working throughout the summer break in a bid to regain full fitness for the new Premiership campaign.
And while several of them will not make the start of the season, their returns may come sooner rather than later.
The former England captain will definitely miss the early Intertoto Cup games and probably the first couple of weeks of Premiership fixtures, but with the Tyne-Wear derby against Sunderland looming before the end of the month he will be desperate to be back.
United's walking wounded were joined for the first day of pre-season training yesterday by the remainder of the squad, including new additions Craig Bellamy and Robbie Elliott - but Robson will look forward to Friday with some anticipation.
"Alan's knee is fine, he feels good about it but he's on hold as far as the surgeon is concerned," Robson said.
"We have to ring him on Friday to get, possibly, the go-ahead for Alan to start running.
"Alan feels he can do it. He doesn't seem to have any problems with it, but we have to be very sure about him. We mustn't take a risk or a gamble.
"Alan himself is optimistic that he might miss a couple of games early season, but he's looking for a start at the end of August.
"He'll be playing some reserve team football prior to him starting in the first-team - providing he wins his place back, and he knows that - round about the first week in August."
Shearer will hope the last bout of surgery will cure a problem he has been battling for around a year, and Robson too will be pleased to have one of his key players firing on all cylinders once again.
Dyer is also hopeful of returning before much of the season has gone, but like Shearer, there will be no rush to get him back into action after surgery on a stress fracture of the shin.
"We said it was a six-month job and I don't think really we'll get him back before that," said Robson.
"He's a valuable player and we can't have him breaking down.
"The operation needs to be healed and be absolutely ready for playing before we can push him.
"It's just a wait and see situation, but we anticipate no problems. He's fine and just needs a bit of time."
Cort, who damaged ankle ligaments in a post-season friendly at Exeter, is still two or three weeks away from a return to full training, while Lee hopes to be fit to play in his testimonial against Atletico Bilbao on August 11 after an operation to clear up a knee problem.
However, Griffin, who underwent surgery on a hernia as the season drew to a close, returns to full-time training this week.