Duncan Watmore took another step towards fitness on Wednesday afternoon, as he completed 25 minutes in a training friendly at the Academy of Light.
The forward is continuing to recover from a long-term knee injury, but a return to match action marks the latest milestone in his rehabilitation.
And although he still has plenty of work to do before he plays competitive minutes, the 24-year-old thoroughly enjoyed his cameo and is delighted to be back in training.
Jack Ross has been cautious with the forward after such a severe injury, but Watmores latest cameo represents a significant step forward.
Ross revealed last week that Watmore had been in full training for three weeks and he wanted to give the striker some game time.
Watmores return could be a huge boost for Ross, who has formed a strong bond with the striker in recent months.
The forward spoke to the clubs website after the match and said: “Really enjoyed it, this is what all the rehab is for to get back playing games.
“Ive had to be very patient, its been pretty much 12 months since I had the operation and its all gone really well, with all the advice off the sports scientists and surgeon, youve just got to be extra patient.
“Im finally in a position now where I can be playing minutes, even through it was an in-house game I felt good which was important.”
When asked about how close he is to a first-team return, Watmore said: “Obviously its not like Im going to be fit for next week.
“But the more I train, the more I can get these kind of minutes and these kind of experiences, the fitter Ill get and the more confident Ill get with my knee.
On his recovery process, Watmore added: “Rehab can be a lonely place, you do a lot of the work yourself in the gym when the lads are out training playing games.