Nemanja Vidic

Manchester United's 31-year-old Serbian international defender Nemanja Vidic suffered a cruciate ligament injury in his right knee during a Champions League match against FC Basel in Switzerland, last December. Although he subsequently recovered, fears over his long-term fitness and physical condition resurfaced when he missed United's league game against Liverpool earlier this season. The defender, the Daily Mail reported, complained of "tightness" in his right knee and was therefore rested. Medical tests later confirmed the severity of the problem and a club spokesman said Vidic would need surgery and eight weeks to recover.

However, in good news for Sir Alex Ferguson and Red Devils' fans, reports Vidic is back in training and working to a specially designed fitness programme to help recover body strength. The training regimen focuses on cardiovascular work and will ease Vidic into more strenuous work in the gym.

United sources remain wary of fixing a date for the defender's return, and as with Jack Wilshere at Arsenal (who is being eased back into first team football after a 14-month injury lay-off), the report says Ferguson is reluctant to rush Vidic back.

United's defensive problems have been highlighted often enough this season. The Old Trafford club are, as of now, without three first-team defenders, in Vidic, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones. However, the news of Vidic and other reports that Smalling and Jones are also set for a comeback will boost Ferguson ahead of the traditionally hectic holiday calendar.

Vidic's expected return from injury aside, questions are being raised over his long-term future with club. Although his recovery from a second cruciate injury is remarkable, his age and the fact that the second injury was in the same knee as the first problem has sparked talk of a January exit for the Serbian. reports Ferguson is expecting a £33m bid from Russian big spenders Anzhi Makhachkala, and the size of the bid could persuade the Scot to allow Vidic to move on from Old Trafford.