England captain Jonny Wilkinson will start his first game for 11 weeks when Newcastle tackle English Premiership rivals Sale Sharks.
And the fly-half is set for an intriguing head-to-head with his red rose rival Charlie Hodgson at Kingston Park.
Wilkinson missed the entire 2004 RBS 6 Nations campaign through a shoulder injury and suffered a bicep injury during Falcons' appointment with Saracens in mid-October.
He was then sidelined until a substitute appearance in the European Cup against Edinburgh on December 11.
He also featured off the bench in the Cup defeat at Saracens and against Leeds last Monday, when he played for an hour and kicked Newcastle to a 15-11 victory.
Wilkinson's full-scale return to action will be a huge boost for England head coach Andy Robinson, whose team kick off their RBS 6 Nations Championship campaign against Wales in just over five weeks' time.
Robinson is considering Wilkinson as a potential inside centre at the Millennium Stadium, retaining Hodgson as fly-half, but Sunday's encounter will offer a direct comparison.
Newcastle have eased Wilkinson back into action following an injury-ravaged 2004, that also saw him absent between January and August because of a serious neck and shoulder problem.
"We are delighted to have him back, but we are not a one-man team, as we have proved over the last few weeks," said Newcastle rugby director Rob Andrew.
"Jonny is chomping at the bit and raring to go."
And England prop Phil Vickery is set to return the Gloucester squad for their clash with Leicester on Sunday.
The 28-year-old has been training for the last two weeks after recovering from a shattered eye socket suffered against Wasps last month.
His latest injury setback happened just 40 minutes into his comeback from a second major back operation.
"Everything seems fine and it will be good to be involved again," Vickery said. "It is up to Nigel (Melville) and (Dean Ryan) with what they want to do but I just want to prove myself again and get back into it."
Wales flanker Sam Warburton admits he will be proud to lead his country out for a record 34th time this weekend and hopes to cap the day off with a memorable RBS 6 Nations victory against in-form Ireland.