Hargreaves nears Man Utd return

17 July 2009 10:23
Manchester United's Owen Hargreaves is likely to return to action in September, says boss Sir Alex Ferguson.The 28-year-old midfielder has not played since the start of last season following two operations to cure a tendinitis problem in both knees. He was ruled out of the current Asian tour but could join the squad for the Audi Cup in Germany in two weeks. "We are happy with his rehabilitation and while he won't be ready to play in Munich, he will train," Ferguson said. "I think we are looking at the end of September depending on how he reacts." A 22-man United squad arrived in Malaysia in Friday ahead of their Far East tour - a trip which has had to exclude Monday's planned match in Indonesia following a bomb attack on the Jakarta hotel they were going to stay in. Hargreaves will be desperate to reignite his United career, having only started 25 times since a £17m move from Bayern Munich in July 2007. It has been a frustrating spell at Old Trafford for the Canadian-born midfielder, who last played for United in the 1-1 draw with Chelsea on 21 September 2008. Hargreaves had surgery on his right knee last November and on his left knee in January, with the procedures carried out under the guidance of American knee surgeon Richard Steadman. The leading surgeon has previously operated on Alan Shearer, new signing Michael Owen and former Reds striker Ruud van Nistelrooy, who is now at Real Madrid. Hargreaves' rehabilitation has had to be a long and delicate process, with BBC Sport revealing in June that he could be forced to quit top-level football in the next two years if the chronic knee problem were to persist. His condition, patellar tendinitis, can be described as inflammation of the tendon that attaches the quadriceps (thigh muscle) to the tibia (shin bone). Hargreaves will be joined in Germany at the end of the month by centre-half Nemanja Vidic and summer signing Antonio Valencia, who have also missed the trip to Malaysia, South Korea and China. Vidic has not fully recovered from an ankle injury he picked up playing for Serbia last month, while winger Valencia - seen as a replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo - needed to go back to Ecuador to gain a UK visa following his move from Wigan. Ferguson also revealed that new signing defender Gabriel Obertan would miss the first three months of the season with an injury which was already known about when he signed from Bordeaux. Four days after stating that United would not be taking on any new players, Ferguson said on Friday that they had secured the services of striker Mame Biram Diouf from Molde. The 21-year-old is due to attend a medical in Manchester next week and will be loaned back to the Norwegian club until January. Ferguson, speaking in Kuala Lumpur ahead of their first tour match on Saturday against a Malaysia XI, said: "We've been looking at him for two years. "We weren't intending on signing anyone else - we feel we have a full squad - but the situation accelerated to a point where other clubs started to make bids. We decided to act and he'll be the last person we sign."

Source: BBC_Sport