United star close to return

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Rio Ferdinand could return to action for Manchester United immediately after the forthcoming international break.

Seven days ago, Sir Alex Ferguson suggested it would be the end of September before the England skipper could contemplate a comeback after suffering a freak knee ligament injury in training prior to the World Cup.

But Ferguson said: "Rio hadn't done anything football-wise when I spoke last week. When he read what I said maybe it gave him a kick. But he has come in and trained this week and done fantastic. He won't be involved tomorrow (Saturday) of course but we have to try and think when we can get a game with him in the next two weeks he is that close."

United's reserves do have a Manchester Senior Cup tie with Oldham on Wednesday, September 1 which would fit the bill, although Ferguson does have the option of arranging a friendly behind-closed-doors given the number of players at his disposal who will not be side-tracked by international commitments over the next fortnight.

However, Ferdinand's presence on the Carrington training ground is bound to be a welcome sight given his recent problems, even if the Red Devils chief accepts he needs to take it steady with the 31-year-old.

Ferdinand is hoping to be in contention for a Premier League meeting with Everton that has now been re-arranged for Saturday, September 11, plus the matches against Rangers and Liverpool that follow immediately afterwards.

"You need to be aware of knee ligament injuries but at the moment everything is fine," said Ferguson.

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Premier League
Manchester United
Rio Ferdinand

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