SPECIALISTS have given Michael Duberry the green light to resume training after scans showed his neck had fully healed from surgery.
The 37-year-old suffered a prolapsed disc during the summer and had to undergo a major operation in August.
There was some doubt at the time over whether he would play football again, but once he receives written confirmation from medical staff the defender will be able to resume full training.
U’s boss Chris Wilder was delighted with the news.
He said: “Michael’s a big player for us and we expected him to start the season, so for him to get any games before the turn of the year will be good.
“I think if you ask any club up and down the country when you have a player of his stature that he won’t play until possibly January, then that’s a massive miss.
“He can’t all of a sudden go and head 1,000 balls so it’s a bit slow, but he can go and head them which is obviously a main part of his game.”
It is a significant boost to United, who have missed the former Chelsea and Leeds United centre back.
So far in this campaign, only AFC Wimbledon have conceded more goals in npower League Two than the U’s, who had the third best defensive record last season, when Duberry was a regular starter.
Wilder said: “I don’t think it’s any coincidence that with him being out we haven’t been as tight and organised.
“I think there have been other factors. There hasn’t been a lot of stability in the back four, a lot of chopping and changing through injuries, but him being available will be a great boost to us.
“He’s been in and around the place but obviously a lot of his work has been in the gym.
“We’ve even noticed in the last three or four weeks when he’s come out on to the pitch he gives everyone a lift.”