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Ferguson ready for Rio return

sports Updated: Sep 10, 2009 17:55 IST
AFP
eurosoccer2009

Manchester United expect to welcome back England defender Rio Ferdinand when they return to their defence of the Premier League title at Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.

Ferdinand has yet to play in the league for his club this season because of a troublesome thigh injury collected playing for his country in an early season friendly against Holland.

The injury ruled Ferdinand out of a triumphant week for Fabio Capello's team in which they qualified for the World Cup in Wednesday's impressive victory over Croatia.

But the extra time away from domestic action has allowed him to heal quicker than expected and, while Ferguson was waiting for reports from a number of other international players on duty for their countries this week, the news on Ferdinand is promising.

"Rio is training this week and has got a chance for Saturday. I'm not sure how big a chance but he's got a chance," said Ferguson.

"We have had a good group of players training back home while the internationals have been on.

"Ferdinand, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Anderson have trained this week, so has Michael Owen. So we have had a decent squad which has remained and trained. If the worst came to the worst then we still have a reasonable group of players fit."

The fact Ferguson has had so many high-profile players remaining in Manchester has been a welcome boost given that busy international weeks traditionally present the United manager with logistical headaches.

On Thursday morning, for example, Ferguson had still not heard about the fitness of a number of players and was concerned about the grueling return trip facing winger Antonio Valenica, who had played in Ecuador's 3-1 win in Bolivia on Wednesday.

"I don't know how Valencia is, they were in Bolivia and he will probably arrive back in November," joked Ferguson.

"He is on a plane back from Bolivia on Thursday morning and expected to play at Tottenham on Saturday. Sometimes you just have to do that."

One player who is definitely ruled out this weekend after suffering injury on international duty is defender John O'Shea, who injured his calf in Ireland's victory over Cyprus on Saturday.