Manchester United defender Nemanja Vidic will be fit for the start of the new Premier League season, manager Alex Ferguson said on Tuesday.
Vidic did not travel with the squad for a pre-season tour in South Africa but Ferguson said the Serb was stepping up his training schedule after recovering from a ruptured cruciate knee ligament he suffered in a Champions League game last December.
"Vidic will start the season. I am sure of that. He's doing good amounts of training but not in the competitive sense in the way the lads out here have done," Ferguson told United's website.
United's title bid was hampered by defensive injuries last season but Ferguson was also optimistic on the prospects of Chris Smalling recovering from a groin injury in time for the opening game of the season away at Everton on August 20.
"Chris Smalling has actually done a bit of training. But the ruptured groin muscle he suffered needed a lot of attention. He's making progress and we expect him to start the season," the Scot said.
Jonny Evans also missed the South Africa trip after having an operation. "I'm not sure he'll start the season but he won't be far away," Ferguson said.
United face AmaZulu in Durban on Wednesday.
Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty Images