FOOTBALL NEWS

29/01/2012 07:29, Report by Nick Coppack

Cleverley could be key

Sir Alex Ferguson is optimistic Tom Cleverley can play a key role in United's race for a 20th league title.

The young midfielder caught the eye at the start of the season with a string of exciting performances but hasn't featured since 29 October at Goodison Park when he sustained ankle ligament damage. And although the boss admits Cleverley is "nowhere near the first-team at the moment", the 22-year-old is making considerable progress.

"Cleverley is doing a lot of running," Sir Alex revealed. "He's nowhere near the first-team at the moment but he's doing a lot of running. He'll be a terrific boost. It will be great to get the boy back because I think he's special."

Cleverley isn't the only midfielder targetting a swift return to the pitch. Ashley Young and Anderson are also nearing full fitness, with both due to train with the first-team this week.

"I expect [Ashley] to start training in the middle of the week, so he's on his way back. Cleverley is two weeks behind that. Anderson will be ready this week, too. He'll start training with us on Monday or Tuesday and then it gives me a collection of midfield players that should cope with anything that happens in the run-in.

"Michael Carrick's form has been unbelievable - he's been playing fantastic - and we'll also have Giggs, Scholes, Cleverley and Anderson, so that's a great group of midfield players that will definitely help us."

More: The Gossip | United injuries mount up

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