Sir Alex Ferguson admits Nemanja Vidic's timely return from injury is a 'big bonus' for Manchester United.
The commanding centre-half has been sidelined since 19th September after being forced to undergo another knee operation.
Vidic is, however, hoping to put an injury-ravaged period of his Old Trafford career firmly behind him and rejoin United's quest to wrestle the Premier League crown back from arch-rivals Manchester City.
Sunday's derby date with City came too soon for the Serbia international, but he will come into contention for Saturday's home tie with Sunderland, and Ferguson is delighted to have his skipper back in the fold after seeing Jonny Evans limp out of action at the Etihad Stadium.
"It would have been crazy to play him against City but against Sunderland...definitely," said Ferguson.
"It's a big bonus to have him back. He is a real competitor with that uncompromising way of his. He likes defending - that's what it is.
"In the last 18 months he has only had 10 games or something. It is not many games that he has played.
"Now he has no pain in the knee, and it's a different knee to the one he did his cruciate on."
With United having looked uncharacteristically fragile at the back this season, keeping just four clean sheets in 24 fixtures, Ferguson is looking for Vidic to help plug the leaks.
He added: "He's under pressure isn't he? But he'll make a difference, absolutely. He gives us the options.
"And to have senior players like that, it's helpful."
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