Brown boost for Red Devils

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Wes Brown is set to return just in time to ease a potential injury crisis for Manchester United.

Skipper Gary Neville and defensive colleague John O'Shea could be out for weeks, according to manager Sir Alex Ferguson after being forced out of Wednesday night's 2-0 win over Portsmouth at Old Trafford.

"Wes is fine. He is training hard and should be OK for the weekend," United assistant manager Mike Phelan told BBC Radio Manchester.

The loss of Neville and O'Shea would leave only Rafael as cover at right-back and while the Brazilian has had an outstanding season for United, Ferguson might be reluctant to rely solely on a teenager during the crucial latter stages of the campaign.

However, after a season wrecked by injury, Brown came through a reserve-team return at Preston on Monday and Ferguson is ready to draft the England star into his squad for Saturday's encounter with Tottenham.

Brown has been missing with a foot injury since October. Although he did briefly return to action with a couple of substitute appearances at the end of January, the Longsight-born defender then dropped back out of the side.

However, while his performance at Anfield much earlier this season did attract criticism, Ferguson will not have forgotten Brown was the mainstay of a defence that won both the Premier League and Champions League trophies last term.

Meanwhile Neville and O'Shea will both be assessed on Thursday to discover the extent of their respective problems.

Neville, who has bounced back after a series of injuries over the past two years, lasted just 10 minutes before limping off with a foot injury, raising fears he had suffered a repeat of the broken metatarsal that saw him miss the 2002 World Cup.

O'Shea hurt his ankle following a late tackle by Nadir Belhadj.

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Tottenham Hotspur
John O'Shea
Wes Brown
Premier League
Preston North End
Manchester United
Nadir Belhadj
Gary Neville

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