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Owen's fit! (No, not that one) Hargreaves set for United reserve return this week

07 Mar 2010 14:44:33

Owen's fit! (No, not that one) Hargreaves set for United reserve return this week

Rare appearance: Owen Hargreaves celebrates scoring for Manchester United against Arsenal As Sir Alex Ferguson waved goodbye to one Owen yesterday, another began knocking at the door just in time to play a part in the Premier League title race and, possibly, the World Cup. There have been many false dawns since Owen Hargreaves last played for Manchester United nearly a year and a half ago. Many times Ferguson expected his England midfielder to return from severe knee trouble, only to see him back to square one. The United boss has wondered whether - like Louis Saha before him - Hargreaves' problem is now as much mental as physical. The 29-year-old has expressed fears to friends that he could go the same way as Dean Ashton and be forced into premature retirement. But having confirmed that Michael Owen will be out for the rest of the season yesterday, Ferguson sounded a positive note by revealing that Hargreaves is set to play for United's reserves against Manchester City on Thursday. It is also encouraging news for England manager Fabio Capello, who would welcome another option at left back if Ashley Cole or Wayne Bridge does not feature. If Hargreaves plays, it will be the first time since United's draw at Chelsea in September 2008. In fact, he has made only 25 starts in three years since arriving from Bayern Munich for £17million. Operations to cure tendinitis in both knees at Dr Richard Steadman's Colorado clinic were meant to have saved Hargreaves' career yet a series of scheduled returns were postponed. About time too: Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed Hargreaves will make hislong-awaited comeback from injury to play for the club's reserves nextweek But yesterday Ferguson said: 'Hargreaves has shown that's he'salmost ready to play again. I've got him pencilled in for a reservegame on Thursday. He's been training with the first team, which is goodto see.' It was a bitter-sweet day for Ferguson. He alsoconfirmed England skipper Rio Ferdinand is ready to return today atWolves after his back problems and resume his defensive partnershipwith Nemanja Vidic at a key point in the title race and with AC Milanin town on Wednesday. 'It gives us a boost because theirpartnership over the years has been consistently fantastic,' said theUnited boss, who added that Ryan Giggs was also close to a return afterbreaking an arm. Season over: Michael Owen (centre) But there was no disguising Ferguson'sanger over Wayne Rooney aggravating a knee problem on England duty inmidweek, and disappointment at seeing Owen join Anderson on thesidelines for the rest of the season after tearing a hamstring on theheavy Wembley pitch in the Carling Cup final. Ferguson expectsOwen to see out a two-year contract yet the striker has endured afrustrating time since joining United from Newcastle last year. Ferguson said: 'I know I've maybe not used Michael as much as I should have, and that's been because of Rooney - his form has been so bloody good. It's curtailed Michael's opportunities. But his training performances have been terrific - he's never missed a training session all season. 'Every game he came on for us, he made a chance. In the main, he was always a threat.' Owen's World Cup hopes had dwindled long before injury ended his season but he said: 'I've loved every minute of my first campaign with United and have already enjoyed some memorable moments. I'm determined to come back at the start of next season in peak condition.' Wolves manager Mick McCarthy caused controversy with his team selection against United in December, making 10 changes for the trip to Old Trafford. It earned his club a suspended £25,000 fine, but Ferguson expects the strugglers to be a different proposition at Molineux today. He said: 'They'll have a go. There's no option if they want to stay in the Premier League.'  Sir Alex Ferguson's fight night: Manchester United boss has 'no issue' with Red Knights but jibes Keith HarrisMichael Owen ruled out for rest of season after Wembley pitch does for Manchester United star's hamstringDefiant United fans pledge to turn world green and gold with a million protestersMANCHESTER UNITED FC


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