Manchester United midfielder Owen Hargreaves has taken another step towards recovery from his knee surgery, returning to the Red Devil's Carrington training ground to continue his rehabilitation.
The England star has been plagued by a tendinitis problem that preceeded his £18million move from Bayern Munich in the summer of 2007.
Although Hargreaves did manage to get through his first season at Old Trafford, and play in the 2008 Champions League final victory over Chelsea, the problem surfaced once more at the start of last season and it was decided to send him for surgery.
Under the guidance of renowned Colorado knee specialist Dr Richard Steadman, who counts Ruud van Nistelrooy and Alan Shearer among the players he has helped recover from ruptured cruciate ligaments, Hargreaves had operations on both knees.
The Calgary-born player has remained in the United States for an extended period of rehabilitation ahead of his return to Manchester. he has been accompanied by the physios who have been working with him across the Atlantic, and they will now offer the United medical staff guidance on the best way to manage his recovery.
Sir Alex Ferguson is determined not to rush Hargreaves' return, knowing the player could be a very influential figure if he does eventually regain full fitness. However, he has been registered to play in the group stages of the Champions League, withthe United manager optimistic he will be fit to play a role by the end of November.
"Hargreaves [has been included] because, having taken the medical advice, we think he'll be available for the last three Champions League group-stage games," said Ferguson when naming his 25-man Champions League squad. "He's a versatile player who can perform in so many positions, so he could be a very important player for us at that time of the season."