Park hands Sir Alex an early Christmas present

December 11, 2006

Sir Alex Ferguson has received the perfect early Christmas present with Park Ji-Sung ready to relaunch his Manchester United career.

The South Korea international has been absent for three months following ankle surgery, but he came through a 45-minute reserve team appearance last week.

And, although he was not considered for the win over Manchester City on Saturday, Park is certain to play some part in United's festive programme as Ferguson's men look to take full advantage of Chelsea's failure to beat Arsenal at Stamford Bridge yesterday.

'Park is a great player to get back,' said Ferguson. 'His versatility and movement off the ball is something we shall use over the Christmas period.

'He also gives us the option of resting our wider players in various games because he can play on both sides of the pitch.'

With Park joining Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on the comeback trail, Giuseppe Rossi's loan period at Newcastle drawing to a close and Henrik Larsson due to link up with his new team-mates next Sunday for the start of a week's training before returning to begin his loan stint at Old Trafford in the new year, Ferguson suddenly has some attacking options.

Although the Scot has always claimed his squad was strong enough to sustain a title challenge, he admits the prospect of an injury to 12-goal striker Louis Saha or Wayne Rooney has filled him with dread.

'For six weeks or so, we have operated with my heart in my mouth, hoping nothing serious would befall Louis or Wayne,' he said.

'It was a situation that worried me - as I know it did our supporters.'

There is even more good news. In addition to the knowledge they will have at least a two-point advantage - and a game in hand - by the time they take on West Ham at Upton Park on Sunday, Alan Smith is now making good progress after stalling in his recovery from the horrific double leg fracture he suffered at Liverpool in February.

Smith appeared alongside Park for the reserves on Thursday, getting on the scoresheet for the first time since his Anfield injury.

'There has been a slight improvement in Alan each week over the last three,' confirmed Ferguson.

'He is still a bit short, so we will keep him on the work he is doing.

'He is now using his left foot much more than he did three weeks ago, which is good news.'