Nemanja Vidic will be included in Manchester United’s squad for Sunderland’s visit to Old Trafford on Saturday, but Jonny Evans misses the Barclays Premier League clash with a hamstring injury.
The Reds are still without Nani – out with a hamstring injury – while Shinji Kagawa is due to take part in full first-team training next week. However, it is the return of Vidic that is seen as the biggest boost.
"Nemanja is back in the squad but Jonny Evans is out obviously after his injury last week," Sir Alex said at his pre-match press conference on Friday. "Jonny got the injury midway through the first half and he struggled on to half-time, but I always think with muscle injuries that if you start the second half with it it’s a problem.
"Having Vida back in the squad is a big, big one for us: his experience, his ability to head the ball, his offensive qualities are well renowned now and he’s our captain. Whether I start him or not, that’s another issue. But it’s great to have him back.
"We hope we’ve given him the proper rehabilitation. Coming back from the last injury, we gave him a long rehabilitation and I thought it was a good one. But unfortunately he suffered another injury. In fact, in the last year and four months or so, I think he’s only played about 10 games. That’s not a lot of football for a man who’s 30, 31. So it’s an issue and we’re hoping that he sails through it.
"We’ll give him a chance and there will be opportunities for him because he brings that great experience, that warrior-type defending he’s renowned for. I don’t know whether I’ll start him against Sunderland but at least we have him back and given the number of injuries we’ve had to defenders over the last two or three years, I think it’s a bonus for us."
If Vidic doesn’t start against Martin O’Neill’s side then Chris Smalling, who came on for the injured Evans against Manchester City last weekend, is likely to partner Rio Ferdinand in the centre of defence. "Chris Smalling came on against City and did very well, he was excellent," said Sir Alex.