Manchester United take part in the only Barclays Premier League match this FA Cup weekend as they take on Hull City at home after both sides failed to progress in the tournament beyond the Third Round. Alex Ferguson has announced that central defender, Rio Ferdinand, will likely start this match after a three month absence.
The central defender, who will be keen to get himself back into the England central defensive partnership with John Terry ahead of this summer’s FIFA World Cup, has not been seen in competitive action since United lost at Anfield on 25th October 2009.
Since Ferdinand’s enforced absence, United have also lost their other first choice central defender, Nemanja Vidic, through injury and have looked exposed at the back on a number of occasions.
United fans will hope that Ferdinand’s return will herald some repeat of the run they saw last season post-Christmas. Ferdinand, Vidic and Edwin Van der Sar between them were, for large periods, absolutely impenetrable: their record of clean sheets during this time arguably did as much to win Manchester United the Premier League crown as any of Cristiano Ronaldo’s goals.
Ferdinand has been plagued by injury of late, however, and the 31 year old must be hoping to make it to the end of the season without any recurrence of his back problem, which had led, it is believed, through over-compensating, to the calf injury that put him out for this most recent lay-off.
Ferdinand will be hoping that, with his impetus, United can lift another Premier League title this season. He must also be hoping that he, personally, can make it through to the World Cup unscathed. With each injury bringing a longer recuperation period, there must be a fear that the current season just might be his last chance for a medal in either competition.
If United can win today, they will go to the top of the table, if only on account of Chelsea’s games in hand; Rio Ferdinand will be hoping to help keep them there, and keep fit.