Manchester United have not ruled out the possibility of Rio Ferdinand being fit enough to feature in the opening Premier League game of the season against newly-promoted Newcastle United on August 14.
There were fears that the former West Ham United and Leeds United defender was set to be sidelined for several months when he suffered a knee ligament injury in early June.
Ferdinand sustained the injury in England's first training session after they arrived in South Africa and was unable to play any part in the team's ill-fated World Cup campaign.
However, a United spokesperson has told the club's official website that Ferdinand is set to be out of action for ten weeks, meaning he should be fully-fit by mid-August.
If the 31-year-old is not ready for that clash he could be available to feature in the Premier League game at Fulham or the 28 August clash against West Ham United at Old Trafford.
Meanwhile, reports suggest Sir Alex Ferguson is ready to launch a £15million bid for Bolton Wanderers defender Gary Cahill.
The veteran United boss is keen to add some central defensive cover for Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic who both missed large chunks of last term through injury.
Real Madrid continue to be linked with Vidic and United currently have only Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling as back-up for their first-choice central defensive partnership.