Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson expects defenders Nemanja Vidic and Chris Smalling to be fit for the start of the upcoming English Premier League season.
The imminent return of the club captain will come as a significant boost to the Red Devils after Ferguson revealed that Jonny Evans will miss out on the beginning of the campaign after undergoing an ankle operation earlier in the summer.
Vidic has stepped up his recovery from a cruciate ligament injury sustained in December of last year and the 70-year-old boss is satisfied with his progress despite the centre-back not having returned to full training.
"Vidic will start the season. I am sure of that," Ferguson told reporters in South Africa, where United kick-off their pre-season tour against Amazulu on Wednesday.
"He's still at that level of doing a good amount of training but not the competitive level that the other lads are at. He's better off staying at Carrington [training ground]."
Smalling, meanwhile, has returned to light training after suffering a ruptured groin in the club's penultimate game of the 2011-12 season against Swansea City.
"Smalling has done a bit of training," the Scot added. "He had a ruptured groin muscle which needed a lot of attention but he's made gradual progress and we expect him to start the season."
Evans, however, has been ruled out of the opening fixture against Everton having required surgery on his ankle earlier in the summer.
"Jonny had the op, but I am not sure that he will be ready to start the season," Ferguson said. "Fortunately, I don't think he will be far away."