Sir Alex Ferguson expects Owen Hargreaves to be making his first-team return in three weeks.

The Manchester United midfielder returned to Carrington last month after spending a year in the United States recovering from ground-breaking surgery on both knees to combat a long-standing tendinitis problem.

"He should be back in the first-team level in three weeks from now, easily," said Ferguson.

"Owen is doing a lot of good work now.

"He is making great progress, which we are very pleased about.

"It is not a thing you have to rush because he has been out a year.

"We have to monitor it a bit more closely but he is giving us good signs."

In theory that would give Hargreaves a chance of being fit for the eagerly-awaited encounter with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on November 8.

It would seem unlikely Ferguson would pitch the former Bayern Munich star into such a high-profile occasion, so an outing immediately after the international break that follows is far more likely, particularly as United should have booked their place in the Champions League knock-out stages by then.

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