Sir Alex Ferguson has warned first-choice centre-back pairing Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic that they will have a fight on their hands to win back their places in the team. Ferdinand will be fit for Manchester United’s home date against Arsenal this Sunday following a knee injury. Vidic, however, is still about three weeks away with a calf problem.
In their absence, young stars Phil Jones, 19, Jonny Evans, 23, and Chris Smalling, 21, were superb in Monday’s 3-0 win over Tottenham. The United team that faced the London club was the second-youngest side Ferguson has fielded in Premier League history, with an average age of 23 years and 191 days. And now the two experienced defenders know they have a fight on their hands to dislodge the young pretenders. Ferguson said, ‘Rio and Nemanja are aware of the abilities of the young players. There is no question about that. When they are both fit, or one of them is, I will have a decision to make’.
That aside, skipper Nemanja Vidic is expected to gain his place back in the side as soon as he is ready, with the defender an exceptional leader from the back. Ferdinand, however, has suffered with injury problems over the past two seasons and may find his run of games limited this season.