03/13/2012 02:17 EDT | Updated 05/13/2012 05:12 EDT

Sidney Crosby to return Thursday against Rangers

Sidney Crosby will return to action for the first time in more than three months on Thursday night when the Pittsburgh Penguins visit the New York Rangers.

"I feel good and the plan is to play Thursday," Crosby said following a team practice on Tuesday. "I got a good practice and I'm looking forward to getting out there Thursday."

Crosby has battled head and neck injuries over the last year. The 24-year-old didn't play a single game for 10½ months after a severe concussion resulted from absorbing head shots in consecutive games in early January 2011.

He returned with an impressive four-point display against the New York Islanders on Nov. 21, but lasted just eight games — in which he recorded 12 points —before heading to the sidelines again.

Crosby was shut down after a Dec. 5 contest against the Boston Bruins, a game in which he had notable collisions with Bruins forward David Krejci as well as his own teammate, Chris Kunitz.

The latest absence was complicated by the discovery that Crosby had also suffered a neck injury at some point.

The former NHL MVP revealed last Tuesday that he'd been cleared for contact, sparking speculation about when he'd return to game action.