FOOTBALL NEWS

29/12/2009 09:27, Report by S Bartram, J Tuck

Veterans bolster squad

Sir Alex Ferguson delivered some more festive cheer on Tuesday with the news that several Reds are back, or close to returning, from injury.

Following the return of Nemanja Vidic, Wes Brown and Rafael at Hull on Sunday, Gary Neville is the latest to bolster United's defensive options. While Jonny Evans and Rio Ferdinand miss Wednesday's game against Wigan, the former is particularly close to making his return.

"We brought two centre-backs back on Sunday and they made a tremendous difference to the defensive part of the side," Sir Alex told his pre-Wigan press conference. "We’ve got Gary Neville now available for tomorrow night, but we’re still hoping to have Evans and Ferdinand back soon. O’Shea may be a bit longer.

"Jonny actually has been training but he felt a tight hamstring the other day so we had to put him on the easy list for a couple of days. But he’s not far away. We’re getting a bit better in terms of the composition of the squad at a time of the year that’s vital to us."

Paul Scholes missed the weekend win over the Tigers after suffering a kick on the hip in training, but is fit for the visit of Roberto Martinez's side, as is fellow midfielder Anderson. Nani is the Reds' only injured forward.

Meanwhile, Edwin van der Sar, who has been missing with a knee injury, has been told to stay in the Netherlands with his wife Annemarie, who is in hospital. "I have told Edwin to stay over there. There is no point in him being here," said Sir Alex. "The best thing is for him to be with his wife. Hopefully she will make a good recovery."

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