Manchester United trio Ashley Young, Chris Smalling and Antonio Valencia are in line to return from injury against Stoke City on Saturday.
All three have made significant progress in training during the international break but, with the Red Devils’ defensive options limited due to Nemanja Vidic’s long-term absence, it is the versatile Smalling’s imminent return that will provide manager Sir Alex Ferguson with the most comfort.
The 22-year-old, who featured at right-back as well as central defence last season, damaged his metatarsal in pre-season training back in July, having only just recovered from the groin injury that ruled him out of England’s Euro 2012 campaign.
Young, meanwhile, has not featured for United since the 3-2 victory over Fulham at Old Trafford in August after damaging cartilage in his knee.
Goal.com revealed on Sunday that the England winger had been targeting a return to the first team for the visit of Stoke and, after stepping up his rehabilitation during the international break, the former Aston Villa man is in line to make his comeback against Tony Pulis’ side.
Valencia, who reportedly left Anfield on crutches in September following United’s 2-1 victory over Liverpool and missed the subsequent defeat against Spurs, returned to action as a second-half substitute against Newcastle and will be in line for a starting berth against the Potters.