Former Manchester United Defender Trains with First Team

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By Chandrashekar Srinivasan | October 13, 2012 9:46 PM EST

Former Red Devil Mikael Silvestre is back in training with the Manchester United first team, amid rumours of a sensational Paul Scholes-like return to the English giants.

The 35-year-old former French international spent nine seasons with the Old Trafford outfit between 1999 and 2008, winning five Premier League titles and the UEFA Champions League, before moving to league rivals Arsenal for a disappointing two-year spell. The former Rennes and Inter Milan player has spent the last two seasons with Bundesliga side Werder Bremen, where he has found little success.

However, he was spotted training at Carrington as early as the start of October, before the United squad left to play CFR Cluj in a Champions League game in Romania. The defender, who played at both centre back and left back during his time at Old Trafford, was later quoted as saying he wanted another chance to play in the Premier League and was offered the chance to train with his old club to keep his fitness levels up.

"I came a few weeks ago and had a chat with the gaffer [Sir Alex Ferguson] just before the League Cup game. I said I was coming back to Manchester until Christmas and he said: 'Come and train and stay fit until you move to somewhere else'," Silvestre explained to the club's official website.

"When you are training with the lads you feel like you are still capable of playing in the Premier League. I am fit, that is the main point, and I still have the hunger for the game. So this level is still the level that I am targeting," he added.

The big question now... is Silvestre Ferguson's short-term (hopefully) answer to the current injury crisis afflicting United defenders? The Red Devils are without captain and key figure Nemanja Vidic (the Serbian international is out after a knee injury) and youngsters Chris Smalling and Phil Jones. The latter could make a return in time for United's trip to Stamford Bridge for a league game against Chelsea, but the club's already sparse defensive options are being stretched to the limit.

However... is Silvestre, if he is to sign, the answer? Can he do another Paul Scholes? Unlikely.

Scholes, 37, remains one of the best passers of the ball and orchestrators of play in the Premier League, despite his age and, in his prime, was easily one of the best in the world. The magnitude of his impact in the second half of the 2-3 defeat to Spurs at Old Trafford is proof enough. However, the first half of the game illustrates why even Scholes is a liability to his side and why Silvestre will almost certainly be step backwards.

Spurs' opening two goals were both scored on the break and with tremendous pace in taking the ball forward. Welsh international Gareth Bale, in particular, left England defender Rio Ferdinand, 31, for dead in the run-up to the second goal and Scholes, lacking energetic midfield cover, could do nothing. It was only the half-time introduction of Wayne Rooney and a re-shuffling of the midfield formation that allowed Scholes to shine again.

Similarly, Silvestre, who was criticised during his time at Werder Bremen for being slow (and the German league is not as fast-paced as the English), will likely have a very difficult time keeping the likes of Bale, Hazard, Silva and Sigurdsson at bay. The Frenchman certainly does have an enormous amount of experience to offer, if only in training, to youngsters Rafael, Smalling and Jones. However, what Ferguson's back line needs now is speed and energy... and Silvestre doesn't really offer that.

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