Man United Daily – Ferdinand could be out for the season and Ferguson opts not to appeal five-game ban

In yesterday’s press conference, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson revealed it is likely that Rio Ferdinand will be unavailable for the rest of the season.

Ferdinand picked up a calf strain in the warm up before February’s defeat to Wolves and hasn’t trained since. What was initially seen as a short term problem that would only see him miss the Manchester derby in mid-February, has now become an injury that could see the England captain miss the remainder of United’s games this season.

Although Chris Smalling has excelled deputising for Ferdinand, it’s a big responsibility for the 21-year-old to fill the shoes of one of the best defenders in the game at such a crucial time of the season. Ferdinand has struggled with numerous injuries over the last few seasons, and if he is to be out for the rest of the campaign will have only played 51 times out of a possible 114 in the Premier League.

It had been hoped that Ferdinand would be back for April 2nd’s away game at West Ham, but United boss Ferguson thinks that is now out of the question. “We are not looking at this as a short term situation. He has not started training yet. We will be lucky to get him back for some part of the season.”

In the press conference Ferguson also stated that Nemanja Vidic will be unavailable for this Saturday’s game against Bolton. He stated that it is just too soon, but he will be fit and ready to go after the International break. It could mean that Jonny Evans is thrown back into first-team action, although the United manager thinks that it could be rather premature for the Northern-Irishman who hasn’t appeared since the aforementioned loss at Molineux.

With John O’Shea out for five weeks and Rafael da Silva missing for two to three, United could recall Ritchie de Laet from his loan spell at Portsmouth to ease the defensive injury crisis.

In the press conference the United manager was also questioned about his five-game touchline ban and whether he would appeal against it. Ferguson responded by saying he was unsure whether he would, but called the decision “disappointing”, adding: “It is the only industry where you can’t tell the truth.” It has since been confirmed that the United boss will not appeal the ban.

Ferguson was handed the punishment after he made comments questioning Martin Atkinson’s fairness in the game against Chelsea at the start of the month. He has been fined £30,000 and a touchline ban that will last for five games – three for this incident and a further two from a previous suspended sentence, and will see the Scot banned from the FA Cup Semi-Final at Wembley against Manchester City.

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