Hargreaves close to return

Image: Hargreaves: Knee trouble

The surgeon who operated on Owen Hargreaves' troublesome knees believes he is closing on a return.

Injury-ravaged midfielder could soon be back in action

The surgeon who operated on Owen Hargreaves' troublesome knees believes he is closing on a return to action. The Manchester United midfielder has missed the best part of two years with a career-threatening tendinitis problem. He appeared to be edging towards full fitness towards the end of last season, making a 45-minute run-out for United's reserves and coming on for the final few seconds of the Red Devils' win over Sunderland in May. There was even talk that he could be a surprise inclusion in England's World Cup squad, with the Three Lions lacking a world-class holding midfielder. However, Fabio Capello opted to overlook the 29-year-old and he started experiencing pain again during the early stages of pre-season training.

Looking good

Hargreaves was immediately sent back to renowned specialist Dr Richard Steadman, who put him on a revised rehabilitation programme. The former Bayern Munich ace is due to resume training with United some time in late September and Steadman is confident he will soon be back in Sir Alex Ferguson's thoughts. "Things are looking good for Owen, it's all worked out," Steadman said. "He's close to playing fitness, although it's obviously up to United to decide when he plays a match." Hargreaves is now in the final year of his contract at Old Trafford and will need to prove to Ferguson that he is over his injury nightmare if he is to earn an extension to that deal.
Condition
"The problem was with the tendon attached to the patella on each knee, which is difficult to resolve," added Steadman. "After the surgery, the key was rest and working hard on recovery. "Owen has spent a lot of time with us here in Colorado and he has never given up. "The recovery was arduous and took a long time but his condition looks promising now." Hargreaves has been omitted from United's 25-man UEFA Champions League squad, but is free to play in the Premier League and domestic cup competitions.

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