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The Serbian has been sidelined with knee ligament damage since the Red Devils' embarrassing Champions League exit at the hands of Basel, but is scheduled to be fit for August

Manchester United defender Nemanja Vidic will be ready for the 2012-13 season, according to his boss, Sir Alex Ferguson.

The Red Devils chief insists that the Serbian centre-back must take his time and not try to rush back into action after an operation on his cruciate ligaments, and has consequently ruled him out of United's pre-season fixtures.

While the Scot does feel that his captain will be at his disposal for the start of the domestic season, there are question marks as to whether he can immediately command a starting place in the wake of United's recently brilliant defensive form.

"Hopefully - and I think I am right - we are in a really strong position with centre-backs," Sir Alex told reporters.

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"[Phil] Jones and [Chris] Smalling were bought for the long term and have proved they can play in other positions, of course, and when Vidic comes back at the start of next season we will have a strong defensive core there.

"He won't travel with us on the pre-season tour but he will certainly be ready for the start of the season.

"Then I can pick and choose whatever two I fancy or whatever two are in consistent form."

Jonny Evans' progress has helped ease the pain suffered by Vidic's injury. The Northern Ireland defender even admitted during pre-season last year that another poor campaign would indicate the end of his career at United.

The 25-year old has responded, though, to make 35 appearances in all competitions this season to general acclaim.

"Some people relish challenges, some people wither," Sir Alex said of Evans.

"The boy has definitely matured. He is 25 now and, although he is young, he has had a lot of experience.

"He had a year at Sunderland and we had him on loan at Antwerp for a while. When they have had that experience it definitely helps them when they get a run in the team."

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