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Tom Cleverley is in contention for West Brom while Chris Smalling is 'doubtful'

Will Tom Cleverley feature versus West Brom? A substitute's role seems most likely.
Will Tom Cleverley feature versus West Brom? A substitute's role seems most likely.

It has been a season full of both promise and injury for Tom Cleverley. The talented midfielder is set for another return after injuring his ankle versus Ajax at Old Trafford. He has been training with the first team this week and he is apparently in contention for a place against Sunday's opponents West Bromwich Albion (*) according to manager Sir Alex Ferguson:

(*) Match Preview: Manchester United vs. West Bromwich Albion

"I think Tom will be involved. Obviously the problem when you have players out for such a long time is when you can get them back into the fray. For instance, Ando played for half an hour and it was a good half-hour for him as he'd not played for two months."

- Ferguson | Source: MUTV's 'Countdown to Kick-off'

In addition, the United boss provided an update on Chris Smalling. The defender has received two blows to the head in recent weeks and as a result of the most recent one, he was was substituted off at the midweek versus Athletic Bilbao.

"We'll have to look at that issue and see what the problem is. I imagine he'll be doubtful for Sunday but I think everyone else is okay."

- Ferguson

It's most likely that Michael Carrick and Paul Scholes are the midfield duo tomorrow. The Cleverley and Anderson comparison in Fergie's quote is telling because he said similar things about the latter prior to his recent return versus Athletic on Thursday. Thus, Fergie is likely looking to bring Cleverley in as a substitute at some point versus West Brom if the right opportunity presents itself. With every result being massive at this point of the season, the manager seems wary bringing a player straight into the side after an injury. Cleverley already had shown a bit a rust against Ajax.

If Smalling is out, that likely puts to rest the speculation that Rio Ferdinand would be rested ahead of Thursday's Athletic match. Expect to see Rio partnered by Jonny Evans in central-defense.

The likes of Darren Fletcher, Nemanja Vidic, Antonio Valencia, Anders Lindegaard, and Michael Owen are all out for this match as well.