At his weekly address to the media, ahead of the Tottenham tie, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson revealed a mixed bag of news in regards to the club's current injury situation.
*Update: Ferguson has revealed his back four for Monday night's clash: Patrice Evra returns to left-back, Jonny Evans and Phil Jones will play at center-back, and Chris Smalling at right-back.
During manager Sir Alex Ferguson's weekly address to the media ahead of Manchester United's clash with Tottenham Hotspur, he revealed a mixed bit of news in regards to injury situation at the club. It has been revealed that first-choice left-back Patrice Evra is fit again for selection and that Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez and Antonio Valencia have returned to training. In addition, there have been no apparent setbacks for Darren Fletcher after the Scot went the full 90 minutes in a Reserves match earlier in the week. Furthermore, Rio Ferdinand's hamstring strain is not as serious as initially believed and he could return as early as the Arsenal FC match at month's end. However, there is certainly some negative news -- captain Nemanja Vidic will be out for about another month or so. Here are quotes from the United boss this morning in regards to the squad's injuries:
"Last week we thought Rio's hamstring would have him out for six weeks and with Vidic, we thought it was just a nerve problem. That's reversed itself. Vidic has got a calf muscle injury, which means he'll be four to five weeks. It's longer than we thought. Meanwhile, Rio's injury isn't as bad as we thought and he could be ready for our game against Arsenal. I don't think he'll be ready for Monday. It's amazing how circumstances can change in a few days. Rafael has had an operation this week and will be out for 10 weeks. It was a freak injury really. He won a tackle (in training), stumbled and fell on his shoulder. Patrice is back which gives us experience. Chicharito is back training and doing very well as is Valencia who will play in the Reserves next week. When we will bring Chicharito back? It depends. From a medical point of view, considering he had a concussion before, we have to decide when is the best time to bring him back. Darren Fletcher had a game the other night, so he's back and doing well. He'll play maybe one more game in the Reserves and then should be ready for the first team."
With Evra being back, the squad still has two natural full-backs in him and in Fabio. This shouldn't change too much for United tactically -- where their role, in getting forward and in supporting United's wingers in attack, is extremely vital. However, there now only appears to be five healthy defenders (Evra, Fabio, Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans, and Phil Jones) so cover will be a concern if another defender were to go down. Vidic was arguably the best player in the Premier League last season and the captain's absence could prove to be costly. This news is only somewhat offset by the news of Evra and Ferdinand, both experienced and world-class defenders when healthy, returning and hopefully providing stability in the back.
United have quality depth at center-back - so any delay in return for Ferdinand may still result in adequate cover for the club at center-back through the talented youngsters Smalling, Jones, and Evans - despite their youth. However, more concern may lie at full-back -- talent is there, but is there enough depth? Perhaps this is where having a humble squad player like John O'Shea could have proved value.