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The Serbian has been out of action since December with a knee injury but is making strong progress and will return to Carrington earlier than the rest of the United squad

EXCLUSIVE
By Greg Stobart

Manchester United captain Nemanja Vidic is due to return to training a week earlier than scheduled as he steps up his bid to be fit for the start of next season.

The central defender has been sidelined since suffering a serious cruciate knee ligament injury during the Champions League clash against Basel in December.

Vidic, 30, is making a rapid recovery and plans are in place for him to start a fitness regime in the next week, before other members of the United squad return for pre-season training at the start of July.

The Serbian was initially three weeks behind schedule in his rehabilitation but the club are delighted with his progress since the end of the season and confident he will be fit for next season's opener against Everton on August 18.

Vidic has been running without trouble and has maintained a specially devised programme to improve his core strength around the knee.

On his return to the club’s Carrington training base, Vidic will be assessed by United’s team of physiotherapists and sports scientists. They will then update United manager Sir Alex Ferguson as to when he can expect his captain to join the full squad in first-team training.

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