Interruptions to the Premier League for international matches have never been welcome but Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is breathing a sigh of relief for the respite that his troops can enjoy before re engaging in the title race with the trip to West Ham. Sir Alex believes that the break has come at a perfect time as his side attempts to clinch a record breaking championship. Ferguson hopes to have key players available by the time United resume their season saying “ We have a great lead even though Arsenal have a game in hand but we’ve got the points so we don’t need to worry about that. Once we start getting players back from injury, we will have a great chance.”
He explained that “Park Ji-Sung, Nemanja Vidic, Darren Fletcher, hopefully, they will be back and bit by bit we will hopefully get them all together” To add to his injury problems, Wes Brown was forced to come off at half time against Bolton with an unspecified problem while Evans will now face a three match suspension for his red card.
Definitely out of contention for the tricky visit to Upton Park will be Evans, Rio Ferdinand, John O’Shea and Anders Lindegaard while Rafael and Brown are highly doubtful. There are reports that Owen Hargreaves is back in training but hopes of him ever making a return have just about been exhausted. On the other side of the ledger however, Vidic, Fletcher, Park, Anderson and Michael Owen should all be back in contention
This is all of course dependant on a clean bill of health for those involved in Euro 2012 qualifiers or friendly ‘exhibition’ matches. There are dozens of them scheduled over the next fortnight but at first glance, United should not be as badly affected as their title challengers. Vidic, Fletcher and O’Shea are obviously not included in their respective squads because of injuries while Evans’ appearances for Northern Ireland makes little difference because of his suspension.
Even travel commitments are at a minimum with the trip to the US by Hernandez for two Mexico friendlies the most taxing. Darron Gibson’s two matches for Ireland will be played in Dublin while Nani’s two friendly commitments are both in Portugal. Even the two Ecuador fixtures involving Antonio Valencia avoids the long trip to South America as they will be held in Spain and Holland.
That leaves England’s Euro qualifier in Wales and the Ghana friendly in London for Wayne Rooney while Patrice Evra has another Euro tie in Luxembourg followed by a Paris friendly.
Not an easy schedule but certainly not as difficult as it might have been. Niggling injuries can always be a possible result of these type of matches but Ferguson will be hoping that his squad will be in a far healthier position by the time the title race is resumed than it is today.
Do you welcome the international break on this occasion?