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The Toe Poke
By ESPN Staff

Brown could make timely return for Man United

Wes Brown could be pushing for a recall in Manchester United's key Premier League encounter with resurgent Arsenal at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Brown's pre-season preparations were hampered by a thigh injury and although the England international was introduced as a substitute in the opening-day win at Birmingham, he subsequently struggled during the shock defeat to Burnley at Turf Moor four days later.

The 29-year-old was left out completely by Sir Alex Ferguson for Saturday's win at Wigan but came through an hour of last night's reserve-team triumph over Bolton, which could put him in line for an appearance against Arsene Wenger's men.

Brown's availability could be crucial depending on the fitness of Jonny Evans.

The Northern Ireland international is defying the pain of an ankle injury to play at present, but was forced to come off at the DW Stadium, just as he did during the Community Shield earlier this month and the win over Birmingham.

With Rio Ferdinand sidelined by a thigh problem he suffered in the build-up to the Birmingham game and not likely to return until the Manchester derby on September 20, Ferguson has limited options if Evans is ruled out at the weekend, when Brown's experience could be a valuable asset against a team that has scored 10 times in its two Premier League outings so far.

Not that Brown views it as a major problem, with youngsters such as Craig Cathcart beginning to break through.

"There are some great young players at this club," Brown told MUTV. "The defenders in particular are progressing really well."

Plenty of interest will also surround Anderson, who is reported to have had a row with Sir Alex Ferguson earlier this month after being left out of the side that lost a Community Shield duel with Chelsea on penalties at Wembley.

Anderson has made just one appearance since, when he was stationed in a wide position to limited effect at Burnley.

The Brazilian's stock took a bit of a battering during the Champions League final defeat by Barcelona in Rome and it is said Ferguson is prepared to let the Brazilian midfielder leave if a suitable offer is received.

However, the Red Devils chief will not have forgotten how effective Anderson was in both legs of the semi-final win over Arsenal just four months ago, when his midfield presence alongside Darren Fletcher dominated the Gunners' engine room.

It could mean the combative 21-year-old gets the chance to revive his fortunes with the Red Devils in a match Ferguson will be keen to win and maintain the momentum generated at Wigan.

Certainly points are already at a premium, with Brown forecasting the usual suspects will be battling it out at the end, possibly with the addition of big-spending Manchester City.

"They have bought some players, so they are going to be a threat," said the Manchester-born star.

"We will have to keep them in mind because there have been upsets already this season, although I think it will be the same teams near the top again."


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