Rio Ferdinand completed 45 minutes of action for Manchester United’s reserve team on Wednesday after three months out with a knee injury.
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The 31-year-old defender could now make his return for United’s first team against Everton in the Premier League on Sept. 11. That game begins a crucial week for the club, which opens its Champions League campaign against Rangers three days later before hosting Liverpool on Sept. 19.
Ferdinand was due to captain England at the World Cup but damaged knee ligaments in a collision with Emile Heskey on the first day of training in South Africa.
He was initially expected to be sidelined for six weeks, but United manager Sir Alex Ferguson recently said he did not expect the defender to return to action before the end of September.
However, Ferdinand, whose central defensive partnership with Nemanja Vidic has played a crucial part in United’s recent success, completed the first half in the reserve game against Oldham without any obvious problem.
Brazil midfielder Anderson provided a further boost to the club by playing the entire game as he continues his recovery from knee ligament damage.