Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley is nearing a return to the first team, after Sir Alex Ferguson revealed the 22-year-old is expected to be in full training in ten days' time.

The prodigiously gifted English youngster is currently recuperating from the ankle ligament damage sustained during Manchester United's victory at the Reebok Stadium in September, following a typically robust challenge from Kevin Davies.

On Friday, Sir Alex Ferguson revealed some positive news regarding the increasingly influential Manchester United midfielder.

"I am hopeful in ten days' time, he [Cleverley] will be playing football on the training side of it." The Manchester United manager told ESPN.

"That is the plan anyway, unless there is any recurrence. We can kick on and then it depends how he does in the training.

"His fitness levels should be fine and if that is correct, he could cope right away. You are talking about a week.''

The club had initially hoped Cleverley would be available for Manchester United's busy festive schedule in December but Sir Alex Ferguson and his medical team were fearful of a possible recurrence having rushed him back against Everton at Goodison Park in October. Cleverley injured the same ankle again during the aforementioned match and has not featured for the Red Devils since.

Manchester United's apparent malaise in the autumn coincided with Cleverley's absence, a measure of his composed and at times eye-catching performances at the beginning of the season, and the youngster's return could provide Sir Alex Ferguson's side with a timely fillip given the daunting set of fixtures on horizon.

While Cleverley will be absent for Manchester United's trip to Arsenal on Sunday and also potentially their visit to Anfield in the FA Cup, barring any setbacks, the midfielder could be in contention for a to face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on 5 February.

Manchester United face Liverpool in the Premier League prior to their Europa League tie against Ajax and although the return of Paul Scholes has palpably lifted Ferguson's squad and indeed the fans, Cleverley's return, should he display similar form as witnessed in August, will be a huge boost for their title run-in.