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Former England international makes surprise return to the Old Trafford playing ranks having previously brought an end to his career last summer

Paul Scholes has come out of retirement to rejoin Manchester United as a player until the end of the season.

News of the shock move emerged only an hour before the Red Devils' FA Cup third-round derby victory against Manchester City, with the midfielder making his comeback as a second-half substitute during the dramatic 3-2 win.

The 37-year-old, who only quit the game in the summer, returns to boost a United midfield currently shorn of players like Tom Cleverley and Darren Fletcher.

A statement on the club's official website read: "Paul Scholes has rejoined the playing staff at Manchester United for the remainder of the season with immediate effect, after approaching manager Sir Alex Ferguson to reverse his decision, made at the end of last season, to retire.

THE REACTION FROM THE ETIHAD
Greg Stobart at Etihad Stadium:

‘He’s Paul Scholes’ roared the United fans in the away end as the players ran out on the pitch to warm up. Some of them can’t have even known about the news, given it broke via Twitter barely an hour before kick-off. The press room was simply stunned by the news as the United communications staff wore wry grins while calls were furiously made to sports editors. City, unsurprisingly, were less excited by the news. ‘We’re bringing back Shaun Goater next week,’ quipped one official.
"He has gone straight onto the bench for this afternoon’s FA Cup third round tie against Manchester City."

And Ferguson expressed his delight at being able to enhance his midfield options, while also reintegrating an experienced United player into the squad.

"It’s fantastic that Paul has made this decision," he said. "It’s always sad to see great players end their careers, especially so when they do it early.

"But he has kept himself in great shape and I always felt that he had another season in him. It’s terrific to have him back.

"The last few weeks, Paul has been training very hard with the reserves and doing a lot of work in the gym. He came to see me and said 'I regret retiring'. There are no negatives for me.

"The players have been delighted. I am delighted. The fans are delighted. It is a terrific addition to our squad at a very important part of our season."

For his part, Scholes added: "I’ve been pretty clear since I stopped playing that I miss it.

"I’m delighted the manager feels I can still make a contribution to the team and I’m looking forward to playing my part in trying to bring more success to this great club."

Scholes made 676 appearances for Manchester United in his first stint at Old Trafford, and now returns to ply his trade under Sir Alex once again.

He earned 66 England caps after making his debut in 1997, but retired after Euro 2004 in order to prolong his club career. The midfielder was almost tempted back to international football for the last World Cup, when Fabio Capello was eager to secure his return.

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