Captain Nemanja Vidic is adamant his knee is in perfect condition to begin Manchester United’s Premier League title hunt and reclaim his and Rio Ferdinand’s crown as the best centre-back pairing.
The 30-year-old Serb has not played a competitive game for the Reds since suffering a serious knee ligament injury in a Champions League tie last December.
But after training with his teammates and joining in pre-season friendlies, Vidic is ready to reignite his United career and dethrone rivals Manchester City.
"I have no doubt Rio and me can again be the best couple of central defenders in the Premier League," he said. "That's the way it has been for a few years and now my dream is for us to return to the same level.
"People can think anything they like. But, all things being equal, it is very difficult for anybody to get the better of us.
"My knee is in perfect condition. My only challenge this season is to avoid more injury. I'm still not 100 percent but this will come with minutes on the field and more hard work. I've received a lot of confidence from the manager and this is the main thing for me."
After Vidic’s injury blow, United were left struggling to field a team with four defenders, suffering a surpise 3-2 defeat at home to Blackburn on Sir Alex Ferguson’s 70th birthday.
The Scotsman’s side also failed to make it out of the group stage of the Champions League and Vidic has set his sights on fixing their disappointing season.
"We had some young players play a lot of games last season," he said. "They'll have learned a lot. We all learned.
“In Europe we've had so much success in recent years and maybe relaxed a bit. We were punished and can't allow that to happen again.
"We had a few injuries last season too. I hope everyone can stay fit this time. To lose the league title was hard for us but is forgotten now and we are only thinking of becoming the owners of the English championship again."