The transfer window may be closed but the return of Owen Hargreaves is as good as a new signing for Manchester United.
Since his £17m move from Bayern Munich in 2007 Hargreaves has made just 25 starts for Man Utd, his two-minute substitute appearance in the away Premier League tie with Sunderland was the only time he pulled on a Manchester United shirt last season.
His battle with tendonitis in his knees has been long and arduous, and the England international knows that should his knees fail to cope with the demands of Premier League football, retirement will be his only option.
He is on the verge of making his Man Utd comeback and a source close to Hargreaves suggests it could be on Saturday when West Brom travel to Old Trafford – Man Utd are 1/4 to beat West Brom.
But Sir Alex Ferguson will not want to rush Hargreaves back into the side, and will wait until the midfielder is at 100% fitness before offering, what Hargreaves believes, is his final chance in professional football.
Having missed so many games for Man Utd, it’s hard to anticipate just how crucial Hargreaves’ return to the first team will be, but Man Utd have a relatively comfortable couple of fixtures coming up and Hargreaves could be slowly eased back into the team.
After West Brom, Man Utd play Bursaspor at home in the Champions League, then travel to Stoke before hosting Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Ferguson will be targeting maximum points from all four games, but the Stoke game will be Ferguson’s main priority as he searches for United’s first away win.
Four away draws has left United five points behind Chelsea and has seen them drift to 3/1 to win the Premier League.
West Brom are 11/1 to come away with all three points on Saturday. See the latest Barclays Premier League football betting odds market here.