James Jones played his first competitive minutes of the season playing an hour of a 1-0 win for Crewe under 23s over Birmingham City.
The midfielder, who has missed the entire campaign so far due to a pelvic problem and then a knee injury, got back on the Gresty Road surface in the Professional Development League encounter.
The 22-year-old looked comfortable as he got through 60 minutes before being substituted as planned for Regan Griffiths.
Manager David Artell said: “James came to see me last week and asked to be on the bench at Stevenage.
“It’s a great attitude but the answer had to be ‘no’. He hadn’t had one minute on a football pitch for 10 months. He is right at the start of his match-fitness rehabilitation.
“We have to see how he gets on in under 23 games.”
While the game was deemed a little too soon for Ryan Wintle (knee), striker Chris Dagnall – who did come off the bench at Broadhall Way – also played for the U23s.
He came off on 75 minutes, leaving Crewe with 10 men as they had used all their subs, but it is understood to have been a precautionary move.
That was 10 minutes after Luke Offord hit the winner after latching onto a Charlie Kirk through ball.