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By ESPN Staff

Returning Neville hands Man Utd fitness boost

Gary Neville is set to provide Manchester United with a major injury boost ahead of this weekend's trip to Sheffield United.

After his captain aggravated a calf injury in last week's win at Blackburn, Sir Alex Ferguson immediately withdrew him from the England squad for yesterday's friendly with Holland and claimed he would not be risked for another fortnight.

However, Neville has now admitted the problem is not quite as extensive as originally feared and he could yet play some part at Bramall Lane as United look for a win to consolidate their position at the Premiership summit.

'I feel okay,' he told MUTV. 'The injury is not as bad as I first thought.

'We will see how it goes in training but hopefully I will be in contention for this weekend.'

Neville has struggled for a consistent runs of games this season and after missing seven of United's 17 games so far this term, will be anxious not to avoid any more.

Ferguson may have other ideas though, particularly as the Red Devils are facing up to a huge week, which also includes a mouthwatering Champions League trip to Celtic before Chelsea arrive for a Premiership blockbuster on November 26.

Having won their last six league games, United are certainly entering the most congested period of the season so far in fine form, although Neville understands the need to maintain the momentum.

'Our form is going well,' he said.

'We are happy with the way we have been playing. The way we have been passing the ball and moving it around, it is difficult for any team to live with us.

'But we have to maintain that high level of performance because we are about to embark on our biggest period of the season.

'We have about 16 matches in the next two months. In the next four weeks alone we play Chelsea, Everton, Middlesbrough and Manchester City, games that are always difficult for us.

'Up to now, we have done everything that has been asked of us. We want to keep it going.'

Although United will be overwhelming favourites to emerge victorious from their first Steel City visit in 11 years, Ferguson and his team need no reminding they have not always had it their own way on previous visits to Bramall Lane.

United's first match of the Premiership era ended in defeat there, while even Sir Matt Busby's title winners were beaten by the Blades 40 years ago.

And, as the Red Devils have already failed to beat one promoted club this season in Reading, there are enough reasons for Neville to be wary.

'It will be a battle,' he said.

'We already know, after playing Reading last season and Wigan this season, that teams who have come up have proved to be difficult opposition.

'Most teams want to get promoted because they want to play big clubs like Manchester United.

'Sheffield United are a big club with a big following and they will want to make it difficult for us.'