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Hargreaves "close to playing"

Injury-plagued Manchester United midfielder Owen Hargreaves has made an excellent recovery from his career-threatening knee problem, according to renowned surgeon Dr Richard Steadman.

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Hargreaves has been sidelined with injury trouble for much of the last two years and has not started a match for Manchester United since September 2008.

But Dr Steadman, who has previously operated on Ruud van Nistelrooy and Michael Owen, thinks Hargreaves, 29, can make a full recovery and is closing in on a return to action.

"Things are looking good for Owen, it's all worked out," Dr Steadman told BBC Sport. "He's close to playing fitness, although it's obviously up to United to decide when he plays a match."

Hargreaves has visited Dr Steadman's U.S. clinic on numerous occasions as part of his rehabilitation from surgery and an ongoing problem with tendonitis in his knees, and is due to return to full training with United next week.

"He was with us a few weeks ago and is doing really well. He was sprinting, twisting and turning," Dr Steadman said. "He's never given up and we never gave up on him. The recovery was arduous and took a long time. But Owen is a patient patient and his condition looks promising now."

Hargreaves was named in United's 25-man Premier League squad, but left out of their Champions League squad.

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