Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has expressed his relief that Park Ji-Sung is ready to return after recovering from ankle surgery.
“Park is a great player to get back,” said Ferguson. “His versatility and movement off the ball is something we shall use over the Christmas period.”
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and fellow striker Alan Smith are also close to full match fitness, easing the pressure on Wayne Rooney and Louis Saha.
“For six weeks or so, we have operated with my heart in my mouth, hoping nothing serious would befall Louis or Wayne. It was a situation that worried me – as I know it did our supporters.”
Ferguson’s attacking options will also be boosted by the availability of loan signing from Helsingborg, Henrik Larsson, from 1 January, while Guiseppe Rossi’s loan spell at Newcastle is drawing to a close.
Smith rejected a loan move in November, opting to work on regaining his sharpness at Old Trafford after recovering from a double leg fracture.
The 26-year-old appeared alongside Park in the reserves on Thursday, scoring for the first time since suffering the injury in February.
“There has been a slight improvement in Alan each week over the last three,” said Ferguson.
“He is still a bit short, so we will keep him on the work he is doing. He is now using his left foot much more than he did three weeks ago, which is good news.”