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Hargreaves steps forward for reserves

Owen Hargreaves has admitted there were times during his long fight for fitness that he wondered whether he would ever play again.

The Manchester United midfielder is expected to make another reserve-team appearance against Burnley at Accrington tonight, seven days after ending 18 frustrating months on the sidelines recovering from major surgery on both knees.

Deep down, Hargreaves remained optimistic he would ultimately return.

But the 29-year-old admits there were down times, when he questioned his entire career.

"It is only human to think that way," he admitted.

"The longest injury before that was when I broke my leg at Bayern Munich and I was out for a couple of months.

"Football is a physical game and injuries are part of it. But I could never imagine having one that has impacted on me so much.

"I thought -- everyone thought -- I would be fit for the start of the season. It didn't materialise.

"It has been a pretty humbling experience and I am sure many people doubted me, but anybody who knows me, knows that what I set my mind to, I get."

Renowned Colorado-based surgeon Dr Richard Steadman told the midfielder his knees were in a worse state than he had ever come across in 35 years of practising.

And, although Hargreaves has reported a vast improvement, he still experiences discomfort and there is a chance he will never be fully clear of the problem.

"I wouldn't say I am pain free and I don't know if I can play through it," he said.

"My training has improved over the last weeks and that is a very positive sign for me. I believe that it will continue to improve and progress.

"But I am still in the process of getting some injections to try to manage the pain because if I didn't have any I would have played at the beginning of the season.

"I am not coming back to just be one of the guys and fill a spot. I am coming back to have an impact."