Antonio Valencia close to Manchester United return

Manchester United winger Antonio Valencia has been given the green light to step up his recovery programme.

The Ecuador star has been out of action since August after suffering an horrific ankle injury against West Ham at Old Trafford.

Sir Alex Ferguson said at the time that Valencia might be back in action by the end of February, and United's medical staff are still working to that timescale.

However, the mere fact Valencia is now working under their complete control is a significant pointer towards a full recovery.

And, given the 25-year-old's outstanding form in his first season at Old Trafford following his £17million arrival from Wigan, having him back midway through a two-legged European clash with Marseille has offered Ferguson some good news.

"Antonio is doing well now," said Ferguson.

"He has got the all-clear from the doctors and is under our complete control now, which is great news.

"He has started his running programme and is with the physios every day, which is a big step forward.

"Possibly he should be back in the first-team squad towards the end of February, which is a big boost to us and something to look forward to."



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