Fulham are wary of applying too much pressure on Simon Elliott as the midfielder nears his first-team comeback.
Elliott signed from Columbus Crew in January 2006 but made just 12 appearances before being ruled out for the rest of the campaign with a calf injury.
The 33-year-old also remained sidelined for the whole of last season with an Achilles problem.
But light now appears to be at the end of the tunnel for the New Zealand international after he completed 60 minutes for the reserves game against Chelsea on Monday evening.
“It’s important that we don’t put too much pressure on Simon because he puts enough pressure on himself,” reserve team manager Billy McKinlay said.
“The period of time he’s been out for means that it’s going to take a number of games to get match fit and ready to go.
“It’s important that we take the pressure off him. He’s a good boy and is very harsh on himself so we’re really, really pleased with him.
“He’s had a lot of frustrating times and I don’t think I’ve seen anybody in my time in the game work as hard and as long as he’s worked over the past 18 months.”