Hargreaves nears return as Valencia eyes February comeback

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Owen Hargreaves is nearing a return to the Manchester United first team, according to the England midfielder’s surgeon.

Hargreaves has not started a match for United since 2008, and his career seemed to be in the balance after a string of serious knee injuries.

But Dr Richard Steadman, who has worked with Michael Owen and Ruud van Nistelrooy, says the 29-year-old’s condition is improving: “Things are looking good for Owen, it’s all worked out.”

“He’s close to playing fitness, although it’s obviously up to United to decide when he plays a match,” Steadman added.

United’s next match is against Liverpool on Sunday (Alex Ferguson’s men are 8/11 to win), and although Hargreaves will not feature at Old Trafford, news of his recovery will be a boost for the title contenders.

Antonio Valencia, another player whose season appeared to be over after breaking his ankle against Rangers on Tuesday, could also return sooner than expected.

The Ecuadorian winger was initially expected to miss the entirety of United’s title challenge, but the club have now targeted a February return for the 25-year-old.

“You can never be 100 percent sure and it is a bad injury but we are looking at the end of February, which is better than we thought on Tuesday,” Ferguson said.

United are priced at 11/4 to win the Premier League title this season, and Sunday’s match against Liverpool represents one of their most difficult tests to date.

Can Liverpool claim another famous win at Old Trafford? They are 4/1 to sink Ferguson’s men. See the full Manchester United vs Liverpool Match Betting Odds market.

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Robbie Morris

Robbie studied sports journalism at the University of Gloucestershire, an establishment chosen for its proximity to Cheltenham racecourse, where he was a season ticket holder. Upon graduation, Robbie was a contributor to GolfPunk, a national magazine aimed at ridding golf of its traditionalist image, before joining the news.ladbrokes team.