Sidney Crosby plans to play Thursday night against the New York Rangers. (JASON COHN / Reuters)

Sidney Crosby will return to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ lineup Thursday night, when the Pens play the Rangers in New York.

“I feel good and the plan is to play Thursday,” Crosby said after practice Tuesday. “I got a good practice and I'm looking forward to getting out there Thursday.”

Crosby, sidelined since Dec. 5 with concussion symptoms and a neck injury, was cleared for contact last week and began practicing again with the team.

Crosby missed 61 games last season after suffering concussions in January 2011. Although he returned to the ice Nov. 21, he played in only eight games before suffering a setback that was believed to be concussion-related. On Jan. 31, though, doctors discovered that a soft-tissue neck injury could have been causing neurological symptoms that mimic those of a concussion. Crosby saw Dr. Robert S. Bray, on recommendation of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, and was given an injection to lessen inflammation in his neck.

“I feel a little bit better knowing what to expect,” he said. “It’s just easier going through it this time. That first game [in November] was pretty overwhelming. It was a lot of fun, but that being said, I’ll take it more in stride this time.”

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