Ferguson positive over defenders

Smalling, who suffered a broken metatarsal during pre-season, is making progress and it seems both he and Jones, who is also yet to make a senior appearance this season after having a knee operation, will be returning at roughly the same time.

"Chris has trained with (reserve coach) Warren Joyce for a couple of days now but it is non-contact at the moment," Sir Alex Ferguson said. "But the encouraging thing is he is definitely on the way back.

He added: "I also expect Phil Jones to start on the football side next Monday and the two of them are both only two or three weeks away."

Ferguson was speaking ahead of the Champions League clash with Braga at Old Trafford, which could once again see the use of a new diamond formation, including Shinji Kagawa and Tom Cleverley.

"If it turns out we play the diamond consistently it would be revolutionary because it is going against our history," said Ferguson.

"But the level of the game in England and Europe now is so high that making yourself unpredictable is going to be a strength.

"Teams will have to think if we are going to use two out wide or the diamond because we have players capable of doing both things."

After a draining return to the Far East during the international break, Kagawa, like Cleverley, was excused from Saturday's win over Stoke so he would be fully refreshed as United look to extend this season's 100% record in the Champions League.

Ferguson has already confirmed defensive duo Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra will be rested ahead of Sunday's Premier League encounter with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, whilst others, including Robin van Persie, could find themselves in the same position.

Source: PA

Source: PA