Date:20th January 2012 at 3:22am
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Tom Cleverley’s return to the United side has been the most anticipated comeback since Brian Dowling’s heralded return to the Big Brother fold.

The diminutive midfielder who’s made less appearances for the Reds this season than Darren Fletcher, has found himself expected by some fans to practically deliver the title to Old Trafford upon his return. I have to admit that this site has played its part in lauding over Cleverley even before the season began and there’s no denying a United side with him in it certainly looks a much more energetic and dangerous proposition, there’s even a dare I say it ‘Barcelona-esque’ feel to the Reds’ play.

The Manchester Evening News notes:

Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley is closing on a return after revealing good news over his ankle injury.

The midfielder originally sustained the injury against Bolton in September but his last appearance came against Everton in October.

Paul Scholes’ return from retirement has eased pressure in the Reds engine room, but Cleverley is hoping to be available from the end of the month.

He tweeted: “Had a great week running outside and my foot feeling very good. Shouldn’t be long now!”

Normally such news would fill me with joy and eager anticipation but upon reading the ME.N story I couldn’t help but feeling an overwhelming sense of trepidation. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t long to see Cleverley back in the side, it’s the worry that like his previous return to the side, it could be too soon and simply lead to another injury, one which could see him out for the rest of the season.

Looking at United’s forthcoming fixtures there’s the possibility Cleverley could be back in time for the league games against Chelsea and Liverpool on the 5th and 11th of February respectively. While both ties would require a strong United side, pushing the young midfielder back in time for those fixtures could be a tad too hasty.

Even if Cleverley’s fitness is up to scratch by the end of January it could take another few weeks before he’s fully match fit, certainly for the sort of rigours   that games against the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool entail.

Personally I’d prefer to see Cleverley slowly eased back into the first team, the old school way with a couple of games for the reserves before maybe an appearance from the bench for the first team. If United are patient than the Reds answer to Iniesta could be playing alongside our answer to Xavi – I’m sure you know who I’m on about- for the Europa games against Ajax – which would be the perfect preparation for the  tough away games at Carrow Road and White Hart Lane.

We’ve already witnessed what rushing Cleverley back into the fold can do as his last return from injury lasted two games before he was out again for what’s been several months.

With Paul Scholes back in the side, Michael Carrick playing the best football of his United career and Phil Jones putting in the sort of midfield performances we used to associate with Roy Keane, it would be incredibly foolish and somewhat unnecessary to rush Cleverley back into the side.

I’ve no doubt when he is fully fit the former Leicester, Watford and Wigan loanee will be back in the starting XI putting in the performances which took the team to a whole new level, but for now let’s allow him the luxury of patience.

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Check out the M.E.N story here: http://menmedia.co.uk/manchestereveningnews/sport/football/manchester_united/s/1471362_midfield-boost-tom-cleverley-closing-on-comeback-for-manchester-united