The influential Manchester United midfielder has been out since he suffered cartilage damage in his knee prior to the Champions League win over Dynamo Kiev in the Ukraine two months ago.

The 33-year-old is still a major figure in Sir Alex Ferguson's plans for the remainder of the campaign.

. And, after visiting a specialist last week, Ferguson is now able to plot a more definitive comeback path for the former England international.

"The report from the specialist is very good," said the United chief.

"Paul will be starting straightforward running next week and they think he will be training with us, football-wise, in six weeks' time."