Manchester United will be buoyed by the return of Antonio Valencia who featured in the FA Cup quarter-final victory over Arsenal at Old Trafford on Saturday.

The Ecuadorian winger broke his left ankle in September during a Champions League tie with Scottish outfit Rangers, and United staff feared he would be out for the rest of the season.

But the 25-year-old’s second half substitute appearance in the 2-0 triumph was met with a warm reception from Red Devils fans, and his return was hailed by the United players and manager alike.

"It was great to have Antonio Valencia on, what a difference he made to our team. It’s marvelous to have him back, what a great, fabulous player he is," Sir Alex Ferguson beamed on MUTV.


Valencia proved a major source of goals for Manchester United last season, and his influence has been sorely missed over the past six months with Wayne Rooney speaking of his delight at the wing wizard’s much anticipated return.

"I can’t tell you how good it is to see him back. It was his first game for six months and he looked like he’d never been away.

"It’s fantastic for him and fantastic for us that he played the way he did," said Rooney.

The Old Trafford teammates were on the pitch together less than five minutes before Rooney was on the score sheet again on Saturday, which will provide even more reason for optimism as Valencia looks to step up his comeback.

And with United’s other wing star Nani still out of action after suffering a gashed leg at Anfield just over a week ago, Valencia’s return to first-team action couldn’t have come at a better time.

He will be hoping to add an extra spark to the team’s end of season run-in as United continue to challenge for honours on three domestic and European fronts.

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