Hargreaves played the first 45 minutes of a 2-0 victory over Burnley on a wet night at Altrincham FCÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Moss Lane ground. There were no real moments of magic from him, but there were encouraging signs for United.
Though he looked a little unsure on the ball in the early stages, the 29-year-old appeared to have regained a lot of his pace. As the half went on, he seemed to grow in confidence, taking on players, and creating a couple of chances with extremely precise through balls.
Most importantly for United, he seemed comfortable making quick turns and feints Ã¢â‚¬â€ something which would have been a key concern after extensive knee surgery. The conditions were not ideal as the rain came down, and he was brought off at half time by manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Hargreaves has not played for United since November 2008, following operations on both knees, in an attempt to cure his long-standing tendonitis problem. The midfielder was one of the few bright spots for England in 2006 and, if fit, could play an important part in South Africa.
There will be some concern at HargreavesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ post-match comments to MUTV, where he mentioned he is still having injections in his knees. Cortisone injections were a key part of his ongoing treatment prior to surgery, and it will be a worrying sign if they need to be continued.
For his part, Hargreaves said he is focussing on taking things as they come, and fighting his way back into UnitedÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s first team. If he can impress Fabio Capello, all the better for him, and for England.
Meanwhile, UnitedÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s chief exec David Gill seems unable to escape the discontent of United fans. Gill was at the game to watch his son Oliver play, and would have been unable to avoid hearing the sizeable contingent of fans clad in green and gold, who sang songs objecting to the Glazer ownership throughout the game.
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