By Greg Stobart
Nemanja Vidic may not return to action until the New Year as Manchester United take a cautious approach to the defender's recovery from his latest knee injury.
The United captain is making slow progress in his rehabilitation and is still being restricted to weights and muscle work at the club's Carrington training base.
As revealed by Goal.com in October, Vidic has been given a specially devised programme in which he will build up his core strength before improving his fitness with cardiovascular work and then start running again.
But the Serbian is still at the first stage of his recovery and United are sceptical as to whether he will return before the Christmas target set out by Sir Alex Ferguson earlier this month.
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The Red Devils' original prognosis when the centre-back broke down in the build-up to their victory over Liverpool on September 23 was that he would return to action at the end of November or beginning of December.
A return during the festive period remains the target but United will not take any gambles.
A cornerstone of the club's success since he arrived at Old Trafford for £7 million 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.
The Serbian returned to the side at the start of 2012-13 but struggled to find his best form before damaging the same knee ahead of the Liverpool win and having to undergo surgery for the second time in less than a year.
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