Man United have missed Antonio Valencia, admits Sir Alex

Winger will not feature in United's FA Cup clash with Arsenal but is close to returning to first-team action

antonio valencia
Antonio Valencia has not featured for United since September Photo: Julia Novikova - Soccer.ru

antonio valencia

Sir Alex Ferguson admits Manchester United have sorely missed winger Antonio Valencia this season.

The Ecuador international has been out of action since sustaining a broken ankle in United’s Champions League clash with Rangers last September.

The 25-year-old winger, who has been back in first-team training for three weeks and travelled with the squad for last Sunday’s game at Liverpool, will not return in time for Saturday’s FA Cup tie with Arsenal.

But Ferguson is hopeful Valencia’s imminent return can provide a timely boost for the Barclays Premier League leaders as the season reaches its climax.

“He was fantastic last season, absolutely brilliant,” said Ferguson. “He was a great signing, he really was.

“The great thing about him was he takes the ball with such great strength and balance. He can take the ball up to the other end of the pitch for you. We missed that pace and acceleration.

“Although Nani has done fantastic – I mean he’s been a revelation this season – we’ve missed that.”

The United manager added: “He’s training very well and has played in practice matches. We have to decide when we put him into a first-team game.

“It’s about timing, being out for a long time. At some point we’ll try it. It won’t be tomorrow [Saturday], but it will be soon.”

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