Manchester United defender Nemanja Vidic should be fit in time for pre-season training after making impressive progress in his recovery from a serious knee injury.

The Serbian centre-half suffered cruciate knee ligament damage during United's Champions League defeat to Basel in December. Red Devils boss Sir Alex Ferguson initially feared a recovery period of 12 months, but the United captain is set to return to the first-team squad earlier than anticipated.

He has made steady progress in recent months, and has gradually increased his training workload, with a view to taking part in United's preparations for next season.

The 30-year-old underwent surgery in January and is now working on strengthening the muscle around his knee at the club's Carrington training complex.

Ferguson has suggested that Vidic will be back in August, just in time for the new Premier League season, but the United boss will not want to rush him back. Even so, understands that the defender is inked in to travel to Asia with the rest of the Old Trafford squad on this summer's pre-season tour.

The former-Red Star Belgrade player was signed by Ferguson in 2006 from Spartak Moscow for £7m and has gone on to become an integral member of the United first team. His partnership with Rio Ferdinand at the heart of United's defence has formed the foundation for the club's success in recent seasons.

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