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Alarm bells sounding for Everton

Everton
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By ESPN Staff

Scholes relishing Untied return

Paul Scholes has admitted the biggest problem with his long lay-off last season was the boredom factor.

The Manchester United midfielder spent the best part of five months on the sidelines after picking up a worrying eye complaint for which no immediate diagnosis could be made.

For a time, even Sir Alex Ferguson wondered if the former England player's career was in jeopardy.

Happily, an extended period of rest did the trick and Scholes was able to return as a half-time substitute as United defeated Charlton on the final day of last season to earn an automatic place in this year's Champions League.

The 31-year-old's recovery has continued throughout the summer and, after returning for the start of United's extensive pre-season programme, he has come through victories over the Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs without a problem in South Africa this week.

And, as he reflects on his time out of the game, Scholes acknowledges it was the idleness demanded of his recovery programme he found hardest to accept.

'I was at home for three months doing absolutely nothing,' he said.

'I have never been out for that long before and honestly, you get a bit bored.

'I was frustrated because I wanted to be playing but initially, I didn't know what the problem was - well, nobody did really.

'Thankfully, we got to the bottom of it eventually and after a bit of rest and a bit of medication, I managed to play half the game at the end of last season and I feel fine now.'

Scholes is so desperate to play he would happily be involved in every game of the Red Devils' eight-match programme building up to the opening Premiership game against Fulham on August 20.

'It is going to take a while to get back into the swing of things,' he admitted.

'We have got seven or eight games over pre-season and I hope to be a part of all of them. I just want to play as much football as I can and hopefully be ready for the start.'

For Scholes, at least the worry of trying to get fit is a more positive experience than worrying about his long-term health.

The exact cause of his problem, which involved a growth behind his right eye, has still not been established. The Salford-born player is just happy his age allowed him to combat it.

'Seeing the specialist was a worry,' he said.

'It was something that should probably happen later in life. But, with me being young-ish, I always had a chance of recovering and I am on the road to that now.'

Although there is still plenty of rustiness in his legs, Scholes proved with one brilliant crossfield pass to Giuseppe Rossi in the opening game of United's South Africa tour that he retains all the ability which has probably made him the stand-out player of Ferguson's famed 'Class of 92'.

With half a dozen Premiership titles to his name, Scholes has little to prove to anyone.

But the hunger for more trophies remains, which is why he is so desperate to end a sequence of below-par starts to the season and put pressure on back-to-back champions Chelsea right from the outset of the new campaign.

'We have to improve our start,' he said.

'We have said for the last couple of seasons if we are going to challenge for the championship we have really got to start bang on form.

'Hopefully we can get off to a good start and maybe win the first five or six games to set us up nicely.'