BIRMINGHAM, United Kingdom, Nov 14, 2010 (AFP) - Sir Alex Ferguson revealed that Wayne Rooney will return to Manchester United on Monday after praising his side's gutsy 2-2 draw at Aston Villa.
United's unbeaten run in all competitions was extended to 26 games after two goals in the last nine minutes from Federico Macheda and Nemanja Vidic rescued a point at Villa Park on Saturday.
Ferguson was pleased with the determination of his players, if not their sloppy play before the fightback, and now he will be able to add Rooney to the mix when the England striker returns to United's Carrington training base.
Rooney has spent a week in the United States undergoing a rigorous fitness programme and could be in contention for United's clash with Wigan on Saturday.
Ferguson admitted: "Wayne had a good week. He's trained very hard. He's been doing two sessions a day and he has achieved what we wanted him to achieve."
United are three points behind league leaders Chelsea - who entertain Sunderland on Sunday - but Ferguson is convinced their refusal to admit defeat bodes well in their bid to wrestle the title from Carlo Ancelotti's men.
Ashley Young's penalty and a close range finish from Marc Albrighton had given Villa hope of securing their first victory over Ferguson on their own turf since 1995.
But United substitute Macheda reduced the deficit with an emphatic strike ten minutes from time before Vidic stooped to head in a leveller and earn a barely deserved point.
Ferguson added: "We are a club that never says there is no way back. We brought people on and they changed the game. There was great life and adventure to the two substitutions (Macheda and Gabriel Obertan).
"Another five minutes and we would have won the game, there's no doubt about that. There was only one team going to win it from then. They had gone and it was a worrying time for them.
"We could have lost six goals in the second half. They've hit the woodwork and Albrighton's missed two great chances, we were all over the place to be honest with you - but to keep that unbeaten run is only going to give us even more confidence."
Villa manager Gerard Houllier was forced to field a relatively inexperienced side due to a severe injury crisis, but Jonathan Hogg - who was given his first Premier League start - and Barry Bannan both impressed.
And Houllier believes the feeling of utter desolation in the home dressing room proves the future is bright at the club he took over in September.
He said: "I was disappointed with the result, it leaves a bitter taste. It would have been good for the young players to have beaten United. The players are disapponted, we had enough chances to win the game. But to be disappointed is good, we want winners.
"But the thing about United is they refuse to ever give up. I was nervous before the game.
"I've never started a game with such an inexperienced team. Lets be honest, if somebody had seen our team before the game and said we'd draw 2-2 we'd have taken it."