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Oct 22, 2012

Smalling and Jones near return

Manchester United's Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are two or three weeks away from a first-team return, according to Sir Alex Ferguson.

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The two England international defenders are yet to play this season during Manchester United's defensive injury crisis, which has also seen Nemanja Vidic missing.

Smalling suffered a broken metatarsal while Jones had surgery on a knee problem but Ferguson said the former Fulham player is back in training and the £16 million signing from Blackburn will soon join him.

"Chris trained [Monday] morning with [reserve-team coach] Warren Joyce," Ferguson explained. "He has trained there a couple of days now but it is non-contact at the moment. The encouraging thing is he is definitely on the way back. I expect Phil Jones to start next Monday on the football side and the two of them are two or three weeks away."

Winger Ashley Young will make his first appearance since August in Tuesday's Champions League meeting with Braga at Old Trafford as Ferguson admitted he faces a selection dilemma in midfield and attack.

"We have Ashley Young back and he will be involved," the Scot said. "I have plenty of wide players and plenty of central midfielders. I have an issue in terms of picking the team and even the substitutes."

Ferguson suggested that Tom Cleverley and Shinji Kagawa, who were not involved in Saturday's 4-2 win over Stoke, will both start as he denied that, despite resting Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra, he is complacent about the clash with the Portuguese team.

"We've kept players back who have been playing well like Tom Cleverley and Shinji Kagawa to play in Tuesday's game so I wouldn't call that underestimating Braga," he added. "To my mind, Braga are better away from home and they showed that beating Galatasaray."

Ferguson also said he will not sign Porto's James Rodriguez, saying: "I hope not because it costs a fortune getting a player from Portugal."

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