Alan Smith made his first appearance since suffering a serious leg injury in February when he played for Manchester United's reserve team on Monday.
Smith had not played since breaking his leg in February
The 25-year-old featured for 66 minutes of United's 7-2 Lancashire Senior Cup win over Preston at Deepdale.
Smith said: "The first half I felt OK but I started to get a bit tired in the second half, which is why I came off."
He broke his leg and dislocated an ankle in the FA Cup and was expected to be out for the rest of the year.
Smith declared himself satisfied with his performance, saying: "I have worked hard for that all through the summer.
"That is what my goal has been. Playing for the reserves is a step up from training and hopefully, in a few weeks time I will have had some more reserve games and be able to make the step up to the first team.
"I just need a few matches under my belt, although I think I could have played all night and not scored.
"But my movement was OK and I just need to build up my strength a little bit."
With no replacement in sight for the departed Ruud van Nistelrooy, United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has already declared his intention to use Smith as an orthodox striker this season, rather than in midfield as in the past.
Smith did have the occasional glimpse of goal, with his best effort coming when he tested Preston keeper Andy Lonergan with an early curling effort.
But he wasted two chances, screwing a shot wide after being set up by Liam Miller and then firing wide with a mis-hit volley just after half-time.
It was still a comfortable enough return for the former Leeds forward, which ended when he was replaced by Sean Evans midway through the second half.
Giuseppe Rossi and Phil Marsh both scored twice for United and Chris Eagles, Danny Rose and David Jones were also on target for the Red Devils.