Sunday 21 January 2018

Hargreaves facing reality of United exit

Hargreaves: Injury battles Photo: Reuters
Hargreaves: Injury battles Photo: Reuters

Mark Ogden

Owen Hargreaves has undergone further rehabilitation in Germany in a final attempt to save his injury-ravaged Manchester United career.

However, Hargreaves is understood to be facing up to the likelihood that he has played his last game for United after being sidelined with a hamstring injury, which he suffered inside the opening five minutes of his comeback against Wolves last November.

Hargreaves is out of contract in June and, with United now locked in a title battle with Arsenal and facing testing fixtures in the latter stages of the FA Cup and Champions League, his first-team prospects are bleak.

The 30-year-old is due to return to Manchester this weekend after visiting the Munich-based doctor Hans Muller-Wohlfahrt for a second spell of treatment.

United manager Alex Ferguson had initially suggested that the player would be sidelined for five weeks with the hamstring injury, but his failure to return to fitness has led to frustration for both Hargreaves and the club. The midfielder has made just 39 appear-ances for United since completing a £19m move from Bayern Munich in July 2007.

He has endured more than two years of fitness problems since undergoing double-knee surgery to resolve a tendinitis complaint in January 2009 and was only able to register less than one minute on the pitch for Ferguson's first-team last season.

But after seemingly overcoming his knee problems following seven weeks of rehabilitation last summer with the LA Lakers physiotherapist Alex McKechnie, Hargreaves returned to the starting line-up for the Premier League victory against Wolves in November.

His early exit from that fixture could be his final act for United, barring a dramatic recovery in the closing weeks of the season, combined with further injury problems to Ferguson's midfield, which has been without Anderson, Ji-Sung Park and Antonio Valencia in recent weeks.

With Valencia likely to end his five-month ankle injury lay-off with a place on the bench for tomorrow's FA Cup quarter-final against Arsenal, French winger Gabriel Obertan is set to return to the starting line-up in place of the injured Nani.

Obertan has not featured in the first team since a below-par performance in the 1-0 win against non-League Crawley Town in the fifth round last month.

The 22-year-old, however, admits he is still battling to adjust to life at Old Trafford, 18 months after his £3m move from Bordeaux.

Meanwhile, Ferguson's personal hearing, after being charged with misconduct for comments about referee Martin Atkinson, is set to take place next week following United's Champions League tie with Marseille on Tuesday.

Ferguson has pleaded not guilty to the charge and is understood to be planning to claim his comments about Atkinson have been misinterpreted. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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