Ashley Young

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed that Ashley Young faces up to two weeks on the sidelines with an ankle injury.

The England international limped out of United's 2-1 defeat to Manchester City last Monday at Old Trafford following a heavy challenge from Pablo Zabaleta, and is now likely to miss United's next three Premier League games.

"Ashley Young is out - he got a sore whack on his ankle and is maybe out for two weeks," Ferguson told Manchester United's official website. "Other than that, we're in good shape in terms of player availability."

Despite Young's knock, Ferguson is boosted by the news that captain Nemanja Vidic, Jonny Evans and Paul Scholes are all nearing a return dates after their own injury problems. The Scot confirmed Vidic returned to first team training Friday ahead of the trip to Stoke City having recovering from a calf injury, while Evans is in line for an appearance this Sunday at the Britannia Stadium, after a hamstring problem.

While still unavailable for Sunday's trip to the Britannia Stadium, Ferguson expressed his delight over the imminent return of Scholes. The 38-year-old hasn't appeared for United since the 4-1 victory over Fulham in the FA Cup fourth round back in January, but his manager is confident his return will lift the side as they close in on a 20th league title.

"He's done a fair bit in the last week or so and it will be a terrific boost to get his football intelligence back in the squad," the United boss added. "He's been out for a few weeks now so he'll need a good bit of training with us."

Despite the defeat at the hands of their neighbours last week, United still hold a 12 point lead over City with seven Premier League games remaining. Although the loss to Roberto Mancini's champions will have hurt United, Ferguson has urged his side to remain focused as they look to secure the Premier League crown.

"I don't think we should look at our position in terms of being 12 points clear," he added. "What matters is winning on Sunday and we need to do that. As we always do, we should just try to do our best. We have a job to do on Sunday and we need to do it."