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By ESPN Staff

Argentina's Heinze close to United return

LONDON -- Manchester United's Argentina defender Gabriel Heinze, sidelined since suffering a cruciate ligament injury in September, is close to making a first team comeback.

United manager Alex Ferguson said the left back, who still hopes to make Argentina's World Cup squad, could play against Sunderland at Old Trafford on Friday.

"Gabi has been back in training for the last three weeks and he is looking fantastic," Ferguson told the club's website. "It was a toss-up as to whether or not he should be on the bench against Arsenal at the weekend.

"He has been tackling like a tiger, has shown great energy in training and his enthusiasm is infectious. He is very close and it may be I give him a go against Sunderland later this week."

Heinze picked up the injury in United's Champions League group stage draw with Villarreal.