Manchester United defender Phil Jones expects the return of captain Nemanja Vidic from injury to provide a huge boost to the club over the festive period.
Vidic made his first appearance since September in the second half of Saturday's 3-1 win over Sunderland at Old Trafford as United maintained their six-point lead at the top of the Premier League.
The Serbian's recent knee injury was the latest in a string of fitness problems which have limited the centre-back to just 14 appearances since August 2011.
Fellow defender Jones believes the skipper's return will lift Sir Alex Ferguson's side and says he is relishing the added competition for a spot in the team.
He said: "It's a fantastic boost for us to have Nemanja back. He's a fantastic player, a great captain and it's important he's back for the busy festive period.
"I enjoy the competition for places, it's great to have a number of players battling for the same position.
"It keeps people on their toes and keeps us fighting for the shirt.
"We see it in training - the sessions are intense, there's a good atmosphere."
Manager Ferguson feels it will take time for Vidic to return to his previous level but knows his presence is important for the side.
He said: "It will take him a bit of time but that is a start.
"He is a warrior and he is our captain. He always battles for you and sticks his head on that ball in the penalty area. That is what he is great at."
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