Just 24 hours ahead of the crucial Manchester derby on Saturday, United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is still sweating over the fitness of three key players as he prepares to take on Manchester City in the heavyweight clash at Eastlands. He has admitted that it will be left until the last minute to decide so it’s up in the air with all three in terms of anything definite.
Wayne Rooney has been touted for a return to action this weekend but the boss said on Friday “Wayne has done some work in the last couple of days and we’re going to assess how he does today in training to see how he is for Saturday’s game”
“The big problem I have is that all the players want to play. But we have to be 100 per cent sure that Wayne is ready” Rio Ferdinand and Ryan Giggs are also rated doubtful for the game “The same applies for Ryan and Rio, although they are both behind Wayne in terms of the work they have done.”
“Picking up injuries in last Sunday’s game is a problem in terms of recovery time, but at least they have done some jogging. I have to consider them if they manage to do something today but it’s up in the air at the moment.”
On a more positive note, Owen Hargreaves is in the travelling squad after training well on Thursday while John O’Shea has made a good recovery after coming off at Ewood Park with a slight injury last Sunday. “I think with John it was just tiredness after his first start in quite a while. Other than that everyone is fit.”
Whoever is passed fit and selected by Sir Alex will be under no illusions about the importance of Saturday’s match, it being the first of United’s last four league games with a four point gap to close on Chelsea.
Fergie hailed this weekend as the most pivotal at the top of the table with Tottenham hosting Chelsea as well as the Manchester derby at Eastlands. “Whoever pulled this fixture out of the hat couldn’t have planned it any better” said Fergie “It’s a pivotal week of the season for four teams – ourselves, Manchester City, Chelsea and Spurs so the potential scenarios are fantastic. Obviously, being selfish, we’d like ourselves to win and Spurs to beat Chelsea. That would put us back in the frame for the championship” the cunning Scot added.
In other news coming out of Old Trafford, veteran midfielder Paul Scholes has ended doubts over his future by signing a one year contract extension. There had been some considerable doubt over the 35 year old remaining at United earlier in the season when he claimed to be unhappy with his contribution.
However, Sir Alex was always confident such fears would be allayed and is delighted that Scholes is staying on. “His form this year indicates his ability and his enjoyment of the game are as strong as ever, there is every reason for him to continue” said Ferguson. “There was talk about him wanting to retire, but when you see his enjoyment in training and playing you can see how much he wants to carry on”
Ryan Giggs has already signed up for another season which means that only Gary Neville of Ferguson’s old stagers still has to commit himself to what will certainly be his final term.
Should Gary Neville continue for another season?