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Ferdinand return boosts United

sports Updated: May 04, 2009 19:15 IST

Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has given a welcome boost to the club ahead of their Champions League semi-final second leg with Arsenal by returning to training on Monday.

United had feared the England defender could miss Tuesday's decider at the Emirates Stadium after suffering damage to his ribs and a bruised lung at Old Trafford last week.

But the presence of Ferdinand on the Carrington training ground Monday morning suggests he will be fit to face Arsene Wenger's men.

Ferdinand had to be sidelined for Saturday's trip to Middlesbrough because he was left coughing up blood in the United dressing room last Wednesday following a collision with United 'keeper Edwin van der Sar.

He spent the night in hospital, although scans revealed the England international had not suffered any extensive damage to his ribs.

Given the importance of Tuesday's game, when United will attempt to defend a single goal lead, Sir Alex Ferguson wants the former West Ham defender to play if at all possible.

Ferdinand's presence would be even more crucial if Patrice Evra did not play at Arsenal.

The France full-back limped off at the Riverside with a leg injury and although Ferguson did claim Evra should be fine for Tuesday he did not train in the open part of United's session.

If Evra was ruled out, Ferguson might consider switching last week's goalscoring hero John O'Shea to left-back and bring Rafael Da Silva into the right-back slot.

However, another option could be Gary Neville, who was also at training on Monday after a recent foot injury.

Wes Brown is out of contention so Ferguson's only other alternative would be to move Jonny Evans, the man likely to be replaced by Ferdinand, to left-back where he has won a number of caps for Northern Ireland.