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By ESPN Staff

Ferguson welcomes the return of Neville

Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed Gary Neville will play a major part in Manchester United's congested end-of-season run-in.

Neville returned to action in a reserve-team game at Newcastle on Monday night after two months out with a groin injury.

It was the latest in a sequence of setbacks for the England defender dating back over two years, when he broke his ankle in a collision with Gary Speed, who was then at Bolton.

With fellow right-backs Rafael and Wes Brown currently out of action, Neville is in line for a first-team comeback against Aston Villa on Sunday.

Following up with another appearance against Champions League quarter-final opponents Porto 48 hours later might be too much for the veteran defender.

However, Ferguson feels Neville can be a major influence during the weeks ahead.

"I am absolutely delighted Gary is back," he said.

"He will certainly play a part in the run-in now.

"Playing is the most important thing. Having players around the dressing room when they are not fit is not great.

"In fact, it is probably not the best thing for them because they want to be playing."

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