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20/03/2013 09:18

Papers: Scholes return

Mark Ogden writes in The Telegraph

Scholes set to return against Sunderland
Paul Scholes is on course to end his two-month injury lay-off by returning to action for Manchester United against Sunderland next week. The 38-year-old midfielder, who has yet to decide on his future beyond the end of this season, has trained for the past 10 days at United's Carrington training ground after being sidelined since January with a persistent knee problem. With United due to play two games in the space of 48 hours when they face Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on March 30 before travelling to Stamford Bridge for an FA Cup quarter-final replay against Chelsea on April 1, Sir Alex Ferguson is keen to have Scholes available. Scholes has missed United’s last 10 games since making a substitute appearance in the FA Cup win over Fulham on Jan 26.

The Guardian claims Rio Ferdinand has yet to start discussions over a new contract at United. “The defender's decision to reject an England call-up and focus on his club duties for the rest of the season has strengthened his negotiating position,” the paper says.

Frank Lampard has defended Rio’s decision to pull out of the England squad. “Rio hasn’t become unpatriotic overnight,’’ the Chelsea midfielder said. “He is a very driven man and player. He will want to carry on playing good football, for United or England, in the future.”

Several papers suggest Michael Carrick could play at centre-back for England against San Marino on Friday, with Ferdinand, Gary Cahill and Michael Dawson unavailable.

And there is plenty of reaction to the news that Michael Owen is to retire at the end of the season. In the Daily Mail, Ian Ladyman bemoans the injuries that have restricted the striker to 360 league games. “Certainly we saw the best of Owen but we didn’t see nearly enough of him," he writes. "But his injury-time winner for United against rivals City in 2009 illustrates an innate sense of timing and, at times, pure theatre.”

More: Owen's best United goalsRio out of Engand squad | Reds must return focused

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