Scholes fully fit ahead of the new campaign

July 15, 2006

Paul Scholes is back and ready to wreak havoc on the Premiership again next season.

At one stage last season it appeared the 31-year-old's career was in jeopardy as specialists struggled to precisely diagnose an eye problem which he suffered in December and left him with badly blurred vision.

Even Ferguson admitted he was not exactly sure when Scholes would return as he wrote the former England star out of the remainder of the campaign.

However, the midfielder made such remarkable progress he was able to turn out as a second-half substitute in the final Premiership game against Charlton and also Roy Keane's testimonial three days later.

And, with a full summer of rest behind him, Sir Alex Ferguson is confident Scholes can still be a major force in the Premiership next term and a possible answer to the midfield strengthening the United boss still feels he needs to make.

'Paul Scholes is back - it is as simple as that,' said Ferguson. 'It doesn't matter who I am thinking about bringing into my midfield, Paul Scholes will be included, as he would in any side in the world.

'He is a fantastic footballer and without question Paul can still have a massive impact on the Premiership. I am delighted to have him back.'

Ferguson admitted the worries surrounding Scholes were so acute because it was a problem United had never faced before.

Eventually, rest was prescribed as the best method of easing the swelling which appeared behind his right eye. And, as usual time proved to be the great healer.

'What he experienced last year was a worry because it was the type of injury we had no knowledge of. We didn't really know how it happened, therefore we were a bit anxious about it.

'But, as we got to the end of the season, he started to improve and now he is 100 per cent.

'He has come through every training session so far. He is only 31 and he still has a good few years ahead of him.'

Ferguson clearly still regards Scholes as a key component of his midfield, which is just as well given the lack of transfer activity at Old Trafford this summer.

The Scot has now revealed his intention to sign West Brom goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak, although even that move is shrouded in mystery as the Baggies appear to have no knowledge of a transfer.

Nevertheless, it seems improbable the deal will not go through at some point even if Kuszczak will not be asked to travel to South Africa for United's three-game tour.

Instead, Ben Foster will make his first start for the Red Devils against Orlando Pirates in Durban tomorrow.

Having initially joined United from Stoke last summer, the 23-year-old spent all last season on loan at Watford - who he helped into the Premiership - before being called into the England World Cup standby squad by Sven-Goran Eriksson.

Ferguson has noted Foster's progress with satisfaction and he is now ready to let the youngster rejoin Watford for a further season when he returns to England.

'We have an agreement with Watford for Ben to go back there for another full season,' said Ferguson.

'We are in the process of tying up a deal with Tomasz Kuszczak from West Brom. He has Premiership experience and he will be the number two to Edwin van der Sar next season.'

Ferguson intends to offer Van der Sar an extension on his current contract, which expires next summer, but sees Foster as a more likely future number one than Tim Howard, who has joined Everton on loan.

Foster is one of a number of young players in the United party who will be eager to make an impression.

Aside from Giuseppe Rossi, Ferguson also named Phil Bardsley and Northern Ireland duo Johnny Evans and Darron Gibson as potential stars of the future and rejected claims the tour - backed by Vodacom which also features trips to Cape Town and Johannesburg - is purely a money-making scheme.

'I came here in 1993 with one or two unknown players,' smiled Ferguson. 'One of them was David Beckham.

'People may not know some of the players who are on this trip now. But they will do in five years' time.'