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Ferguson happy with Valencia progress

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson says Antonio Valencia is on course to return to the Old Trafford first-team picture by the end of February, as the winger continues his recovery from a serious ankle injury.

• Kuzsczak: I can be United's No. 1

Valencia has been out of action since September, after suffering a fractured and dislocated ankle in a seemingly innocuous challenge by Rangers' Kirk Broadfoot in United's opening Champions League fixture.

The Ecuador international required oxygen on the pitch and the severity of his injury left many players aghast, with Valencia requiring surgery soon after.

The prognosis then was for a February return, after initial fears his season would be over, and Ferguson believes his winger is still on course to return to the first-team towards the back end of next month.

"He's making the progress exactly the way we thought," Ferguson said. "It's looking like the end of February or beginning of March.

"He should be back training in five to six weeks time, but given the extent of the injury we'll give him more time to get into the full flow of things."

With Ferguson unlikely to add to his squad in January, the return of Valencia could provide untied with a timely boost as United look to consolidate a challenge on three fronts, with the club facing crunch matches against Chelsea, Liverpool and Marseille at the beginning of March.

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