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The Old Trafford captain will return to gym work at the club's Carrington training complex with Sir Alex Ferguson wary of rushing the central defender back to action too soon

By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent

Nemanja Vidic is set to start on the comeback trail next week by returning to Manchester United’s training ground to begin his rehabilitation from knee surgery.

The United captain’s specially devised programme will start with core work in the gym to build up his body strength.

Under the guidance of United’s fitness and performance specialists, Vidic is then expected to start improving his fitness skills with cardiovascular work before he is given the green light to start running again.

But the Serb defender, who turns 31 on Sunday, will not be rushed into a first-team comeback after damaging the same knee last month that kept him on the sidelines for most of last season.

United’s original prognosis when Vidic broke down in the build-up to the club’s victory over Liverpool on September 23 was that he would return to action at the end of November or beginning of December.

Sources have told Goal.com that United are reluctant to put a specific return date on him as they are playing it “really safe” for fear of him breaking down again.

Nonetheless, the likelihood is that he will be available for selection within about six weeks in plenty of time for the busy festive programme.

With Chris Smalling closing in on a return and Phil Jones also making good progress, United want him ensure Vidic is 100 per cent before bringing him back.

A cornerstone of United’s success since he joined the club for £7million in 2006, Vidic missed the majority of his side’s trophyless campaign last season after he suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury during the Champions League defeat against Basel 11 months ago.

Vidic returned to the side at the start of the current season but struggled to find his best form, before he damaged the same knee ahead of his side’s 2-1 win over Liverpool and had to undergo surgery for the second time in less than a year.

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