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Vidic could return within 'five or six months'

NEMANJA VIDIC could return from his cruciate ligament injury in time for the start of next season after the Manchester United captain's agent claimed the player may be sidelined for only "five or six months".

Vidic is due to undergo surgery before the end of the week.

There were fears the 30-year-old Serbian defender could be sidelined for at least a year after landing awkwardly and damaging cruciate, lateral and medial ligaments in his right knee following an aerial challenge with Basle's Marco Streller on December 7.

But Vidic's agent, Silvano Martina, now insists that the player is feeling positive about his road back to fitness.

"Nemanja is feeling good and waiting to start his rehabilitation," Martina said.

"The first forecasts said the injury could last for a year, but I believe he will be ready to go back in five or six months.

"Vidic will be back next year, stronger and better. He tore ligaments, which is a serious injury, but thanks to medical progress, it is similar to suffering a meniscus problem 20 years ago.

"The club doctors assure us that the recovery will run smoothly and that he will be back very quickly.

"Of course, it will take time to get back into the old rhythm, but there is no doubt that he will be his old self again."

While Alex Ferguson has ruled out Vidic for the rest of the season, the United manager could be boosted by the return of Rio Ferdinand for Saturday's clash with Blackburn.

Ferdinand missed the St Stephen's Day victory against Wigan with a back complaint, but the defender was able to train yesterday.

Ferdinand will be assessed this morning and, with Phil Jones and Chris Smalling expected to return from illness, Ferguson could tread a more cautious route with his 33-year-old defender and rest him against Blackburn.