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Vidic on course for pre-season return

Manchester United captain Nemanja Vidic has confirmed he is on schedule to return in time to take part in the Red Devils' pre-season programme.

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• Blog: Sharp focus

Vidic, 30, has not featured for United since suffering a serious knee injury during December's crucial Champions League group stage defeat away to FC Basel.

But the Serbia defender is confident he will be ready to return to training in July ahead of the 2012-13 season.

"It's going well," Vidic said of his rehabilitation on United's official website. "Obviously the projection was I would be ready for the next season. I am on schedule and will hopefully start training again in July.

"Much of stuff I'm doing in the gym I'm not looking forward to but it benefits me and at the moment it's not too bad."

In Vidic's absence, youngsters Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have filled the breach, and the United skipper has been impressed with his junior team-mates.

"I think they are doing very well," Vidic said. "If you look at their age and the expectation we have from them, it wasn't that high but they turned out to be important players for the team.

"They have great futures ahead of them and Evans is playing really well in the last few games."

For Vidic, though, the star performer this season has been Ecuador winger Antonio Valencia.

"He's a great player to play with,'' Vidic said. "First of all he's a team player who works hard for the team and makes a difference up front. He's done it so many times this season and it seems like he's made a step up and improved.

"I would say he is our best player this season. There are one or two others, like Wazza's had a great season and has scored a lot of goals. But Antonio has done really well. It's important he's fit and plays all the games because we need him at this time of the season.''

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