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Real escape with hope of progress

What the papers say
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Rafael back, Fletcher closes on return

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has reported good news on the fitness front with Rafael returning to the squad for Saturday's game against Everton and Darren Fletcher returning to training.

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Young right-back Rafael suffered a hamstring injury in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final victory over Chelsea on April 6 but is now in contention to play at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Meanwhile, United have also welcomed Fletcher back to training following a seven-week absence due to a virus, and it is hoped he could feature in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final against Schalke on May 4.

"Darren Fletcher is back training, he should be available again in ten days," Ferguson said. "He's excelled in big games over the years. When he's fit, he'll come straight back into the team.

"Rafael is back in the squad. [Dimitar] Berbatov has a slight groin strain, we'll see how he is tomorrow. Otherwise, everyone is fine."

United go into Saturday's game holding a six-point lead with five games remaining of the season. They have also won 15 and drawn one of their 16 home games this season.

Everton are without a win at Old Trafford in the league since 1992 but Ferguson will be wary of a side that has enjoyed an improved run of form under David Moyes in recent weeks.

"Everton have done exceptionally well," Ferguson said. "David Moyes has had to cope with a mountain of injuries over the last few weeks but they have still churned out the results. It is never going to be easy against Everton. It is a local derby of sorts. But our home record is fantastic and so is our performance level."

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