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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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Rooney, Rafael back in United training

Wayne Rooney and Rafael da Silva are set to be fit for Monday's Manchester derby after returning to training.

• Blog: United sense of perspective

And defensive duo Nemanja Vidic and Jonny Evans could be in contention to figure for Manchester United after both sat out the FA Cup quarter-final replay defeat to Chelsea.

England striker Rooney is United's record scorer in Manchester derbies with 10 goals, including four in the last three, but has missed their last two games with a groin injury sustained on international duty.

Right-back Rafael came off, also with a groin problem, in Saturday's 1-0 win at Sunderland and Evans replaced the Brazilian at the Stadium of Light before being hurt himself.

Manager Sir Alex Ferguson said: "Wayne and Rafa have started training this morning [Thursday] which is good news.

"Hopefully, they will be fine by Monday. Jonny Evans and Nemanja Vidic are not there yet but, hopefully, they will start training maybe tomorrow or Saturday morning. We have a little bit of time on our hands to get most of the troops ready for the game."

Ferguson believes that meetings with Manchester City have changed as United's local rivals have become title rivals.

"It's a derby game with a difference from a few years ago," he added. "We have to get used to playing Manchester City in big games and that's the case again.

"The important thing is to win Monday's game. It'll be a big game for City. They'll want to come and derail us for a spell. We're at home and our consistency is there for all to see. I expect us to perform really well on Monday."

United have a 15-point lead in the title race and have only dropped 13 points all season but Ferguson is still guarding against complacency and targeting another win.

He said: "We have to congratulate our players on their consistency - to win 25 out of 30 games is a record and should be applauded. It's fantastic. But we've still got to win the title. We have eight games left and that's 24 points to play for.

"The way we've approached things is the correct way and that's to win the next game. Hopefully, it takes us to winning the league. It doesn't matter what people say outside of the club, it's about what we think inside the club. We're always looking to do our best. It's been a good season for us."

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