Wayne Rooney has given Manchester United a boost by returning to light training ahead of schedule, Goal.com has learned.
Rooney took part in his first outdoor session on Tuesday since suffering a gashed right thigh against Fulham on August 25.
He has been working with United's fitness staff this week, separate from the first-team squad, on running, ball work, jogging and turning.
Rooney has not yet returned to full contact training and still has a light strapping on the wound, which required 11 stitches following the incident with Hugo Rodallega.
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Sir Alex Ferguson is hoping the England international will be fit to be in contention for a place on the bench against Galatasaray in United's opening Champions League group match at Old Trafford next Wednesday.
Rooney is understood to be optimistic he can make a full return in the Premier League against Liverpool at Anfield four days later, which takes place 29 days after he first suffered the injury.
United believe the 26-year-old is ahead of schedule in his recovery but are concerned about the possibility of impact injuries should he return to contact training before the wound has fully healed.
The club have been concentrating on maintaining his fitness levels and Rooney spent last week doing upper body work in the gym before his return to the training ground.
Speaking about his recovery recently, the forward said: "What I don't want to happen is to come back too early when it's not quite healed and it opens up again in the first game back.
"That would just set me back again another four weeks. I just have to be careful with it and make sure I am ready.
"It's up to the doctor. When he declares me fit, I'll be ready. The timescale put on it was four weeks. If that's the time they feel I need for the wound to heal properly, then that's what I’ll do."
Surgeons told Rooney that he came only "one or two millimetres away" from severing an artery in the clash with Rodallega.
Ferguson will be keen to have him available given fresh doubts over the availability of his two principal summer signings, Shinji Kagawa and Robin van Persie.
As Goal.com revealed earlier on Wednesday, the Japanese star will undergo scans on a back injury picked up on international duty and is regarded as unlikely to figure against Wigan.
Van Persie, who has scored four goals in three games since joining United from Arsenal last month, is also a doubt after being substituted at half-time in Holland’s 4-1 World Cup qualifying win against Hungary on Tuesday with a thigh injury.
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