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Real escape with hope of progress

What the papers say
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Rafael ready to step up comeback

Manchester United full-back Rafael da Silva is ready to make a timely return from injury with fellow defender Chris Smalling having been ruled out for a month with a fractured foot.

• Broken foot rules Smalling out

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is considering throwing Rafael into the reserves against Everton on Thursday for his first match since suffering a shoulder injury.

The Brazilian youngster has been out since August, when he had surgery on his shoulder, following a training ground collision at United's Carrington complex prior to the opening fixture of the season against West Brom.

Ferguson said: "Rafael has been training for over a week. It was a big operation on his shoulder and we hope we can maybe fit a game in for him - maybe the next reserve game.

"He's coming along fine, there has been no setback and he has been training every day.''

Rafael had been tipped to cement his place as United's first choice right-back this year.

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