FOOTBALL NEWS

15/12/2012 17:52, Report by Ben Hibbs

Vida boosts back four

Nemanja Vidic was given a rousing Old Trafford ovation on his return to action against Sunderland after overcoming a knee injury, with Sir Alex Ferguson describing the Serbian centre-back as a “warrior”.

Vidic completed just five games earlier this season when it was discovered he had damaged the meniscus cartilage in his right knee, but his comeback in Saturday’s 3-1 Barclays Premier League win further bolsters United’s defensive options.

Following the vocal approval of United fans, Sir Alex told MUTV: “He is a warrior and a captain who has always battled for you. He sticks his head on the ball in that penalty box and he’s great at that.”

Chris Smalling, who started ahead of Vidic against the Black Cats, welcomes Nemanja's return to the fray: "It's brilliant to see him back. He's been training really well and we've got real strength in numbers now because we've been a bit stretched, particularly in defence. It's good to see him back."

Meanwhile, Phil Jones was handed his first league start of the season at right-back and, although Rafael and Evans have picked up hamstring injuries in the last week, the United boss feels he is close to having a full complement of defenders at his disposal. 

“Rafael has a tight hamstring so we didn’t risk him against Sunderland,” the boss confirmed. “But having Vidic back means I’ve got all of my defenders fit which will help us in the next few games.”

More: United 3 Sunderland 1Sunderland gallery | Sir Alex laments missed chances

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