Hargreaves trains with first team
Manchester United midfielder Owen Hargreaves has been handed a boost by manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who pulled him out of the reserves to train with the first team. The 29-year-old was scheduled to continue his comeback from major knee surgery with a match for the second string against Burnley at Accrington tonight.
Hargreaves played his first game for 18 months in the reserve game against the Clarets last week, but he will not be joining Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side this time.
"Owen won't play for the reserves tonight," Ferguson told Manchester United's official website. "He's going to be training with the first team and we'll see where that takes him. We're keen to get him back involved because he's an experienced player and will be a valuable addition for us in the run-in, when having a strong, fit squad is vital."
Hargreaves is only eligible for the Premier League as he was not registered for the Champions League knockout phase due to the uncertainty over his recovery. The player has admitted there were times during his long fight for fitness when he wondered if he would ever play again.
"It is only human to think that way," he said. "The longest injury I had before that was when I broke my leg at Bayern Munich and I was out for a couple of months. Football is a physical game and injuries are part of it, but I could never imagine having one that has impacted upon me so much. I thought - everyone thought - that I would be fit for the start of the season. That didn't materialise. It has been a pretty humbling experience and I am sure many people doubted me, but anybody who knows me, knows that what I set my mind to, I get."
Renowned Colorado-based surgeon Dr Richard Steadman told the midfielder his knees were in the worse state that he had ever come across in 35 years of practising. Although Hargreaves has reported a vast improvement in his knee, he still experiences discomfort and there is a chance he will never be fully clear of the problem.
"I wouldn't say I am pain-free and I don't know if I can play through it,'' he said. "My training has improved over the last weeks and that is a very positive sign for me. I believe that it will continue to improve and progress. But I am still in the process of getting some injections to try to manage the pain because if I didn't have any I would have played at the beginning of the season."