Sir Alex Ferguson has hinted he will not blood Owen Hargreaves back into his first-team amid reports he will not play for Manchester United this season.
The Canada-born England international has not played for the Red Devils since September 2008 after undergoing surgery on both knees but has been gradually stepping up his rehabilitation in recent months.
Hargreaves was part of United's squad that lost 2-1 at home to Chelsea recently and it was expected that he would feature between now and the summer.
However, Ferguson has done little to quash reports that Hargreaves will not return until next season by hinting he has more than enough options currently vying for midfield places.
"It is difficult to say when Owen will be back; he is training well and I had him in the squad for the Chelsea game," stated Ferguson.
"His training performances have been fine but I think at the moment midfield is not an issue for us because we have plenty of alternatives."
Eye for goal
Meanwhile, the vastly-experienced Scottish tactician has praised the goals output of Darron Gibson, who took his season tally to six after scoring against Bayern Munich last week.
Ferguson believes it would be unwise to ignore Gibson's goal-scoring prowess and has likened the 22-year-old's ability to find the back to the net to that of Paul Scholes.
United's long-serving manager believes with more regular first-team football the Republic of Ireland international could make a telling contribution from midfield.
"You saw Gibson's performance against Bayern Munich," he said. "That was his sixth goal of the season [in all competitions] and you cannot dismiss that.
"It is the kind of contribution we used to get from Paul Scholes. He used to get me 12 to 14 goals from midfield all the time and we haven't had a player like that in a while.
"Who is to say if Gibson had been playing all the time where he would be in terms of goals? But he is getting recognition now and even the players are commenting on how much he has improved."