London – Jonny Evans is fit to return to Manchester United's defence this weekend, manager Alex Ferguson said on Friday as the club confirmed the Northern Ireland international had signed a new contract at Old Trafford.
Evans, who has agreed a contract until to 2016, suffered a groin injury in the 3-2 win at Manchester City on December 9 and will return for the trip to Swansea City on Sunday.
The Premier League leaders will be without Rafael who has yet to recover from a hamstring strain, while Nemanja Vidic, who returned after a long lay-off with a knee injury as a substitute in the 3-1 defeat of Sunderland last week, is unlikely to start.
“Jonny has had one or two injuries but hopefully they're behind him now,” Ferguson told reporters.
“He has risen through the ranks to become an integral part of the first-team squad. He has developed into a top player for us and has scored a couple of important goals this season too. I am delighted he has signed a new contract.”
Ferguson, whose side begin a four-match spell in 10 days with a six-point lead over Manchester City, said Serbian Vidic was being eased back in slowly.
“Vida is doing great in training, it's just a matter of picking the time to bring him back,” he said.
Swansea have lost their last two Premier League games but have played some impressive football this season and are comfortable in 10th place, eight points above the drop zone.
Ferguson said the trip to south Wales would be tricky.
“You've seen the results they have had and the progress they have made as a football club over the last years,” he said.
“The important thing for me is that they try to play and have the courage to play their football.
“At this time of year, all the games are challenges and they come thick and fast now. Utilising the squad is important, as is picking the right team, but hopefully we can get through it and be in the same position as we are now.”
After Swansea, United have home games against Newcastle United on Wednesday and West Bromwich Albion on Saturday before a New Year's Day trip to Wigan Athletic. – Reuters