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Football | Barclays Premier League

Kagawa may return for Manchester derby

United midfielder Shinji Kagawa could make an early return from his left knee injury by appearing in the Manchester derby against City on Sunday.

"Kagawa started running today. He may make the bench (against City)," manager Alex Ferguson said on Tuesday.

If he is named, Kagawa couldn't have timed his comeback match better than the showdown between the English Premier League leaders. United lead host City by three points.

There's space in the team because of injuries to Nani and Antonio Valencia, and a fit-again Kagawa would be a welcome boost for United.

When United's first Japanese player damaged knee ligaments on October 23, the team thought he would be playing by now. But his recovery was slow and the team thought he may not play until Christmas.

While he's been sidelined, Kagawa received the inaugural Asian international player of the year award for his excellent early season form, confirming his status as one of the top Asian players in the world.

Still establishing himself in the Premiership is South Korea international Ki Seung-yeung, though he's making a mark at surprising Swansea, which has only one loss in its last 10 matches. Ki attributes Swansea's success to tactics.

"I think we have a very good squad and the way we try to play is working very well, so we just want to keep doing it," Ki said. "It's not easy to keep the ball and keep passing it. It's easy to say, but not easy to do."

Swansea, at home to Norwich City on Saturday, play attractive football, implementing fluid passing that can be very effective when it comes off.

"Sometimes we make mistakes with the passing, but we are getting better," Ki said. "Also we are very good on the counterattack."

Former South Korea international Park Ji-sung's season has been marred by injury, and his Queens Park Rangers are the only team in the league yet to win. Park has made substitute appearances in QPR's last two games, as new manager Harry Redknapp has eased him back into action.

QPR play Wigan on Saturday, and it may be the game in which Redknapp grants Park the first start in his two-week reign.

Park could face Wigan goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi, who has a chance at achieving his second clean sheet in the league this season, as QPR have scored the least amount of goals.

The Omani's teammate, Ryo Miyaichi, the Japanese winger who is on loan from Arsenal, may be utilized against left back Armand Traore.

Sunderland striker Ji Dong-won has yet to play a Premier League minute this season, but has attracted attention from abroad.

Ausburg, the bottom-placed team in the Bundesliga, has expressed interest in the South Korea striker. But manager Jurgen Rollamann told German media, "We haven't yet put up an offer for him."

Were any move to materialize, Ji would join fellow young countrymen Koo Ja-cheol and Son Heung-min in the Bundesliga.

Fulham play Newcastle on Monday, with Iranian midfielder Ashkan Dejagah possibly retaining his place in the starting line-up. He was rested in last week's draw with Chelsea, but started against Tottenham in a 3-0 loss on Saturday.

Japan defender Maya Yoshida should play for Southampton when it hosts Reading on Saturday. Reading has yet to win away from home this season.

Southampton played four games without a loss in November, then began December with a loss at Liverpool. Teammate and Japanese striker Tadanari Lee has yet to make an appearance in the league this season.


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