Alex Ferguson tips Owen Hargreaves for league return
Hargreaves has been training with both the reserves and first team
Sir Alex Ferguson says Owen Hargreaves may still play in the latter stages of this season's Premier League campaign despite long-term tendinitis problems.
The United boss was forced to leave the midfielder out of Manchester United's squad for the Champions League.
But he said: "Owen will be back. He could come back and make an impact on the league for us. Hopefully he does.
"There are more games in the league than in the European Cup and I don't need to register him for the league."
Hargreaves has not played since September 2008, when he finally decided to undergo revolutionary knee surgery in the United States to seek an end to his long spells out of the game with tendinitis, which date back to his time at Bayern Munich.
The 29-year-old eventually returned to United's Carrington training base 12 months later after undergoing an extensive rehabilitation programme under the guidance of world renowned knee specialist Dr Richard Steadman.
At the time, it was thought Hargreaves would be back in action by November to help United's quest for honours and push for a place in Fabio Capello's England World Cup squad. But that deadline was missed and so have others Ferguson subsequently put in place.
Knowing there was no chance of Hargreaves being fit for the Champions League knockout round tie with AC Milan later this month, Ferguson opted to leave the player out of his 25-man squad for the latter stages of the tournament.
Ferguson added: "Owen's recovery is slow. It is a year-and-a-half now and I can't put a time on it."
With plans already being shaped for the big clash against AC Milan later on February 16, Ferguson has opted to pick young Belgian defender Ritchie de Laet instead in a 25-man squad.
"I had to choose and it was a hard decision, but it is the correct decision," he said.
Striker Mame Biram Diouf is also in the squad but Danny Welbeck has been removed after joining Preston on loan until the end of the season.
Capello said in December that Hargreaves could still be included in his squad for the 2010 World Cup - but that now appears a remote possibility. Hargreaves was named England's player of the tournament at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
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