22/10/2012 13:30, Report by Mark Froggatt

Boss gives defensive update

Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed injured defenders Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are “two to three weeks away” from returning to action.

Neither player has featured for Manchester United this season, leaving the Reds seriously depleted at the back throughout the early stages of the 2012/13 campaign.

However, speaking at the pre-match press conference for United’s UEFA Champions League clash with Braga at Old Trafford on Tuesday, the boss explained how both are on the road to recovery.

“Chris Smalling trained this morning with Warren Joyce's Reserves,” Sir Alex said.

“He's trained with them for a couple of days. It's non-contact for him at the moment - he's just playing as a free player, a floating player, in the training sessions. The encouraging thing is that he's on the road back. There's no question about that.

“I expect Phil Jones to start on the football side of things on Monday. They're both around two or three weeks away, which is good news. They're not far away.”

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