Ferguson looks weak at back for West Ham


FA CUP Third round replays Manchester Utd v West Ham:After grinding his way through the full 90 minutes of Manchester United’s Premier League victory over Liverpool on Sunday, Rio Ferdinand seems unlikely to be risked for tonight’s FA Cup Third Round replay with West Ham with a vital trip to Tottenham looming at the weekend.

Skipper Nemanja Vidic is expected to sit the game out too, as is Jonny Evans, who is nursing a hamstring strain. Ashley Young is kept out by a knee injury, even if United manager Alex Ferguson has confirmed the damage sustained in collision with Daniel Agger is not as bad as first feared.

“Young has got a dull knock, a little bit of a strain on the knee, but it’s nothing serious,” Ferguson told MUTV.

“I think he’ll be back next week. Maybe not for Tottenham but, the week after, he should be okay.”

On the positive side, Wayne Rooney and Nani are set to return after their absences.

Rooney has not been seen since suffering a knee injury during training on Christmas Day, meaning he has not had chance to erase the memory of an awful performance at Swansea. Since then Robin van Persie has added another six goals to his tally, Javier Hernandez three and Danny Welbeck picked up man-of-the-match honours against Liverpool.

Clearly then, Rooney cannot endure a sluggish return from injury, as has been the case on too many occasions for Ferguson’s liking.

Nani has been out for over two months and with speculation about his future beyond the end of the season remaining intense, he also needs to make an impact.


And for the entire United squad – with the exceptions of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Darren Fletcher and, from his time at Arsenal, van Persie – there is the added incentive of a first FA Cup winners’ medal at the end of this particular road to glory.

“I don’t know if (not winning the FA Cup) will leave a hole,” said Ferdinand, who missed the 2004 triumph over Millwall due to suspension. “I will only be able to tell you when I retire. It is something I would love to rectify and change though. Fingers crossed we will win it this year.”

Meanwhile, manager Sam Allardyce is bidding to solve West Ham’s defensive dilemma. James Collins’s hamstring injury suffered in a 3-0 loss at Sunderland means Guy Demel, James Tomkins and Winston Reid are the only front-line defenders available for tonight’s game.

It means Allardyce could change his system at Old Trafford, rather than promote youngsters, with crucial games coming thick and fast this month.

Allardyce dismissed reports linking fit-again midfielder Mohamed Diame with Arsenal and insisted West Ham have not made a further bid for Blackburn’s Martin Olsson.

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