Sir Alex Ferguson has backed fit-again Rio Ferdinand to erase his injury nightmare by becoming a leader for both club and country again.
Ferdinand has been missed at both domestic and international level since damaging knee ligaments while on England duty ahead of the World Cup.
The 31-year-old travelled to South Africa as England captain but instead of leading his country’s bid for glory he ended up watching the tournament at home.
It was the latest setback for a player who has suffered more than his fair share of injury problems down the years, leading some sceptics to cast doubts over his long-term fitness.
But Ferguson has no such fears and believes there is no reason why Ferdinand, finally available for selection after missing the start of the season with his World Cup injury, cannot regain his status as leader of United and England.
“Rio had a nightmare season last season with injuries. He missed the World Cup because of injury,” Ferguson said.
“The main incentive for Rio is to stay fit and if he stays fit he is going to be picked for England because he is their best centre-back.
“We have some terrific centre-backs here. Rio has always had challengers at centre-back at this club.
“The boy Chris Smallling has improved fantastically over the past couple of weeks. His performance for England Under-21s has earmarked him as a top young player and with him and (Nemanja) Vidic it is great to have that competition.
“Last season, three of those players were always injured and it was a nightmare for us.
“But hopefully, if Rio stays fit, we will be much better. I can only go on his training performances.
“Our training is not easy. It is quite intensive and he has done really well.”
Meanwhile, Ferguson was quick to rubbish reports claiming Ryan Giggs would become the next Wales manager, and he also believes the FA should replace Fabio Capello with an Englishman once the Italian stands down in 2012.
He added: “With all the talk about Wales approaching him, I thought I should put it to bed with Ryan.
“I don’t think it was a matter of Ryan wanting it — I think it was a case of them liking him.
“That was one of the options which seemed to be on Wales’s agenda but as far as I was concerned I was prepared to stop it before it got any momentum.
“I wanted to kill it right away so Ryan knew exactly where he stood. We want him here, that’s the important thing.
“With England, If you have got an English manager with experience and quality, then it is probably the sensible thing to do.”
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!