Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed he expects Nemanja Vidic and Chris Smalling to be fit for the start of Manchester United's season.
The news the defensive duo will be available for the start of the Premier League will be a huge boost to United as they look to wrestle the title back from rivals Manchester City.
United, who are 3.25 to win the league, lost out to City on goal difference last season, having been in the driving seat heading into the final stages of the campaign.
Slip ups against Wigan, City and Everton proved costly and the Old Trafford faithful has pointed to Vidic's absence as a key factor in their failure to retain the championship.
The Red Devils captain has been out of action since December after rupturing his cruciate ligament but should be fit for the first match of the season against Everton.
Potentially joining him in the starting line-up will be Smalling, who underwent an operation to repair a ruptured groin muscle over the summer.
"Chris Smalling has done a bit of training," Ferguson told the press ahead of United's friendly in South Africa against AmaZulu.
"The ruptured groin muscle he had certainly needed a lot of attention.
"Vidic will start the season, I am sure of that.
"He is still at the level of doing good amounts of training but not in the competitive sense that the others have done so it was pointless bringing him out here."
Ferguson has also confirmed Jonny Evans won't be fit for the start of the season after surgery on his ankle.
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