Fergie eyes Valencia return

United winger could be back by February

Valencia: Close to return

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Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed that Manchester United winger Antonio Valencia could be back in action by the end of February.

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The Ecuador international has been sidelined since suffering a sickening ankle injury against Rangers in the UEFA Champions League in September.

There were initially fears that he would be out for the remainder of the season and it has been a long road back to fitness for Valencia.

However, the 25-year-old has now stepped up his rehabilitation and Ferguson does not believe he will have to wait much longer to get back on the pitch.

Ferguson has been encouraged by the reports he is receiving from the Red Devils medical staff and hopes to be able to call on Valencia again in around a month.

Boost

"Valencia is doing well now. He has started his running programme and is out with the physios every day, which is a big step forward," Ferguson said on Sky Sports News.

"He has been given the all-clear from the doctors and so he is under our full control now which is great news."

Valencia has been a key player for United since joining from Wigan in the summer of 2009 and Ferguson admits his return will provide a huge lift for the closing stages of the season.

He added: "I think possibly towards the end of February he should be back in the first-team squad which is a big boost to us and something to look forward to."