Manchester United winger Antonio Valencia has returned to Manchester after being injured during national team duty for Ecuador during Copa America. The 25-year-old received a knock on his ankle during Ecuador's opening match versus Paraguay and he never returned to action during the competition. At first, the fear was for the worst as the injury occurred to the same ankle that required extensive surgery last September. However, Ecuador's team doctor, Tony Ocampo, calmed those fears last week:
"[Paraguay player] stepped on his foot and very nearly fractured it again. He has a bruise on the spot where he has a titanium plate, he couldn't put his weight on his foot, but the swelling has gone down about 40% since Sunday."
Ocampo felt at the time of the quote that Valencia would return in a match versus Brazil, which finished just hours ago. Instead, manager Sir Alex Ferguson revealed that the winger has left Argentina, the host country of Copa America, and instead is being treated at Carrington - United's training facility in Manchester:
"Antonio's gone back to Manchester. He got an injury in the first game for Ecuador so he's back in Manchester. It's nothing serious but he wasn't going to be taking part in the rest of the Copa America so there's no point in him coming out here [USA pre-season tour] if he's injured. We've got the facilities back at Carrington - that's the best place for him."
The injury is obviously worrisome when considering the history to Valencia's ankle, however, Fergie is indicating that he should make a recovery sometime soon - although no timeframe was given. The Ecuadorian recovered better than anyone could have ever imagined last Spring from his previous injury and his form was arguably world-class during the run-in. He finished the season first-choice on the right-flank due to his direct attacking prowess and his more than capable ability to defend. With this latest injury, and with the riches that United have on the flanks in both quality and depth, it is possible that his playing may be limited in the early portion of the season. While Valencia recovers and gains fitness and form, Nani, Park Ji-sung, and the newly acquired Ashley Young are capable of manning the right-flank.