LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 29: Marouane Fellaini of Everton in action with Tom Cleverley of Manchester United during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Manchester United at Goodison Park on October 29, 2011 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
According to Tom Cleverley on his Twitter account, the Manchester United midfielder is hopeful to begin training again within three weeks. Here is the tweet that specifically outlined a hopeful timeline for his return:
"Finally some good news. Plan to b outside running in 2 weeks and training the week after that. Cnt wait to b back!"
Those 140 characters can certainly be limiting, especially to spelling and grammar. Anyway...
The 22-year-old was off to a spectacular start this season and his performances even earned him a call-up to the England squad. After spending the past three seasons on loan to Leicester City, Watford, and Wigan Athletic, it was clearly evident at the season's beginning that Cleverley was ready to contribute to United's squad. Central-midfield is arguably the weakest position at the club (okay, it IS the weakest position) and Cleverley was the stand-out performer in the center of the park up until his injuries this season -- he was last seen in action against Everton in late October before coming off due to injury.
Injury, depth, and questions of enough quality have been an obvious concern for United. Cleverley's return, assuming he doesn't have any setbacks, will provide remedy to each of these issues. This timeline he has set for himself would have him running by roughly January 20 and training by January 27 -- it's difficult to assess when he could be fit to feature. It would be interesting to see how Cleverley would compliment Michael Carrick in central-midfield. While the latter can hold things steady in the back with his intelligent positioning defensively and tidy distribution, the former may be free to use his energy, drive, and incisive passing further up in attack. We've already seen how well a Cleverley partnership with an in-form Anderson (whose form obviously fluctuates quite a bit) can work.
There's no doubt that manager Sir Alex Ferguson desires a recovery as soon as possible -- the United boss rates Cleverley very highly:
"He, to my mind, is probably the best midfield player in Britain, potentially."