Vidic targets six-month return after doctors give thumbs up
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 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 Basel's Marco Streller on December 7.
However, 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 Vidic out for the rest of the season, the United boss could be boosted by the return of Rio Ferdinand for Saturday's clash with Blackburn.
Ferdinand missed the St Stephen's Day win over 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 centre-back and rest him against Blackburn.
Meanwhile, Arsenal have made no formal approach yet to Thierry Henry about the possibility of him rejoining them on loan next month, despite manager Arsene Wenger's refusal to rule it out as an option.
Henry is in London and training with Arsenal but does not believe he has a decision to make on the issue until the club ask him to raise it with his Major League Soccer franchise, the New York Red Bulls.
The MLS season starts in March and, given the demands of pre-season, any loan deal could realistically be for only six weeks at the maximum -- provided that it began at the start of next week.
Per Mertesacker said after Arsenal's 1-1 draw with Wolves that, in training, Henry still looked capable of playing in the Premier League for the club he left more than four years ago.
"I am very happy training with him (Henry)," the defender said. "It is a great experience to play against him in training."
Mertesacker also gave his approval to another of Wenger's potential targets when he said that Colgone's Lukas Podolski, who is a Germany team-mate, would be a good addition to the team.
Podolski is on the list as Wenger seeks to cover the absences of Marouane Chamakh and Gervinho at the Africa Cup of Nations in January and February.
Arsenal expect Jack Wilshere to be back in contention to play at the start of February after a long recovery from the stress fracture to his right ankle, which required surgery. The England man tweeted yesterday that he was taking ice baths to speed the recovery. (© Daily Telegraph, London)