after last Christmas was ruined for him, Sheffield United defender Andy Taylor certainly deserved an early present ahead of this one.
The Blades left back had last season cut short on Boxing Day when he suffered the serious knee injury that has left him on the sidelines since.
Now, the 25-year-old has been back in action in a private, behind-doors friendly and emerged both delighted and relieved.
It was against Hull City almost a year ago that he damaged his anterior cruciate ligament, an injury which always means a long time out including lengthy rehabilitation after surgery.
It was hoped that he would be able to get back playing around six weeks ago but he suffered a thigh injury, on the opposite leg, and that proved a setback.
It meant that he was under treatment for the thigh injury and there was no desire to then look to push him back towards a return.
Taylor’s long haul back has been shared with Chris Morgan and Jonny Ertl who also suffered cruciate ligament injuries.
Ertl’s was less complicated and he has been back in the first team squad recently. It may be that he could come into manager Danny Wilson’s thoughts for a first start in United’s FA Cup third round tie against Salisbury City on January 7 after the non-league club beat Yeovil on Tuesday. United have sold over 1,000 tickets for the long trip to Bournemouth on Saturday leaving just a couple of hundred left from their allocation. It is all-ticket for Blades fans.
The home game with Yeovil Town has been rearranged for Tuesday, January 10.
It should have been the previous weekend but United will face Salisbury City in the FA Cup on that particular Saturday.
Former Blades defender David Unsworth has been put in temporary charge (along with veteran player Graham Alexander) at Preston following their decision to sack Phil Brown as manager.
Brown joined North End last January but failed to keep them in The Championship and, expected to launch a back-in-one attempt, they are currently 10th and have won only one of their last 10 matches.
He becomes the 11th Football League manager to lose his job this season.