Jonny Evans hopes to return to first-team action at Southampton in order to ease Manchester United's defensive headache.
The Northern Ireland international was an unused substitute against Fulham but made his comeback from an ankle operation in the Under-21s' 2-1 triumph against Tottenham at Moss Lane on Wednesday.
Warren Joyce was able to give Evans a full match in order to step up his fitness and the centre-back looked his usual assured self to provide a welcome boost with Rio Ferdinand, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling all currently sidelined.
"It's important for me to get that run-out," Evans told MUTV. "I was only going to play 60 minutes but ended up playing the full game as Warren let me know before the game. I'm glad I've got 90 minutes under my belt.
"I'd never really experienced missing pre-season before. People always say it's important to get a good pre-season under your belt and, if you miss it, it affects your season so I've been trying as hard as I can with the fitness work and a lot of work behind the scenes.
"It was important for me to get this game and instead of only playing 60 minutes, 90 minutes gives me a full game behind me and hopefully I'll be in contention for Sunday.
"I felt pretty good. I've had a few setbacks over the pre-season where it's not gone as planned but, hopefully, everything is now behind me and I can kick on with the season."
Under-21s coach Joyce was pleased with Evans' contribution to a second win of the new campaign for his team.
"It's great to see him back and he's come through unscathed," Joyce told MUTV. "He's done it properly and got tackles and headers in, moved the ball around and looked good."
Evans must be a candidate to partner skipper Nemanja Vidic at St Mary's, which would enable Michael Carrick to move forward to a more familiar