The Derby club captain featured for 45 minutes against Doncaster in an under-21 game today.
Derby County club captain Shaun Barker has had a torrid three years with injury. The 32-year-old centre back dislocated his kneecap and damaged knee ligaments in a game with Nottingham Forest in 2012 and has not played a game of football since.
However, he returned to first-team training in January and is slowly stepping up his return to competitive action.
Today he got back in action. Derby County's under-21 side took on their Doncaster Rovers contemporaries on Wednesday and the club confirmed via their official Twitter account earlier that Barker would be starting the game - along with fellow long-term knee injury absentee George Thorne, who is stepping up his comeback.
He played 45 minutes in a contest which ended 1-1, after a late strike from Albanian midfielder Alban Bunjaku saved a point for the Young Rams.
But the main story from the game was Barker's return to action. Team-mates Jeff Hendrick and Stephen Warnock, the latter of which he has never played for Derby County alongside, sent their kind words to the player on Twitter earlier today.
Good to see @barks5 back out there today.. Good 45mins under your belt now. You've put a lot of hard work in to get there pal— Jeff Hendrick (@JeffHendrick92) February 11, 2015
Not known @barks5 long but a top guy and so pleased for him after so long out to get 45 mins. Incredible attitude.— Stephen Warnock (@StephenWarnock3) February 11, 2015
Here's hoping he is back in competitive action soon after a three-year absence from the game.