Chris McCann handed Burnley a huge boost on Monday by returning to full training.
The Irish midfielder, 23, has not featured for the Clarets since re-injuring his knee at Bolton in January 2010, in only his second game back from injury.
And after playing just 103 minutes of competitive football since September 2009, when he first suffered the injury against Sunderland, McCann admitted it was “amazing” to take another giant step closer to a return.
He said: “It feels amazing to be back. I was very excited because it has been so long.
“I joined in a couple of the 12-minute games and my head is moving faster than my body at the moment!
“But it feels good to be back with the boys and have a kick around and even better to get out there, get serious and bury a goal past Beasty again!
“It will take me a while to get me going again and I’ll be building it up every day now and doing as much as I possibly can to try and get back.
“I’d like to get at least 10 days under my belt before I can think about games, but hopefully I can get some action again before too long.”
Clarets boss Eddie Howe shared McCann’s joy, which helps to soften the double blow of injury setbacks suffered by Charlie Austin and Steven Thompson in recent weeks.
Howe said: “We are absolutely delighted for Chris. It’s been a long road for him, but he did well in training today and it’s good to have him back.
“I’ve been there myself and that first day’s training is always special because you just can’t wait to get back on the grass.
“He will be pleased tonight and a little bit stiff, but it’s the first step on the road to recovery.
“He is obviously not back in a shirt yet, so that is obviously the next step.
“We will be patient with him and give him all the time he needs, but it’s a positive step today.”