Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are close to Manchester United comebacks

Chris Smalling: Back in training

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Sir Alex Ferguson is hopeful Manchester United defenders Chris Smalling and Phil Jones will return to action within the next week.

Both players have yet to feature this season with Smalling having broken a metatarsal in the summer and Jones struggling with back and knee problems.

Smalling, 22, is back in training and although Wednesday night's Capital One Cup clash with Chelsea will be too soon, Ferguson expects him to return for United's Champions League match with Braga next week.

Meanwhile Jones will return to training on Monday in a major boost for United with Nemanja Vidic currently sidelined after knee surgery.

Ferguson said: "We will try to push Chris on quickly. I don't think he will make Wednesday's game but I am sure he will be ready for the following week.

"There was some hope both he and Phil would be back for this busy schedule.

"Phil will be starting football training next Monday. He still has some running to do. The good news is they are not far away."

Ferguson has confirmed that he intends to rotate his squad after the 2-1 victory over Newcastle in round three saw the likes of youngster Michael Keane, Marnick Vermijl and Scott Wootton given starts along with new signing Alexander Buttner while Nick Powell and Ryan Tunnicliffe came off the bench.

Wayne Rooney and Darren Fletcher were among the senior players to feature but both were coming back from injury.

Ferguson told MUTV: "Obviously we will make changes for the Wednesday game.

"The squad that played against Newcastle will be in place again.

"You don't want to lose down there and we want to continue in the cup.

"Any game down there is going to be tough. There has been good progress there since Roberto di Matteo took the job. They are big games - and big games are good for us."