Rio Ferdinand poised to make Man Utd return against Hull
Rio Ferdinand will make his long-awaited return from injury on Saturday when Manchester United face Hull City at Old Trafford.
Ferdinand, 30, has not played for United since a defeat at Anfield on October 25 but news of his imminent return will be welcomed by the club as Ferguson has been forced to deal with substantial fitness problems in defence this season.
Having impressed in training after recovering from his long-standing back complaint, Ferguson is now ready to put Ferdinand back in the starting XI in the weekend's Premier League fixture.
"Rio has been training very well in the last few weeks," Ferguson said. "He will play tomorrow [Saturday]. This is the time to bring him back. We have gone through the whole situation with him in terms of enough training and endurance work.
"It is a big boost because the defence has been the weakest part of our game this season. At various times we have lost Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Edwin van der Sar, John O'Shea. It has been a rough time, so to get them back can only be good for us.''
Ferguson confirmed Vidic was still a fortnight away from recovering from a calf complaint, although that would at least put him in contention to face AC Milan in the Champions League knock-out round.
He revealed this week that O'Shea could miss the remainder of the season after suffering a blood clot in his leg, but Ferguson was at least able to confirm Dimitar Berbatov will be available on Saturday after recovering from a dead leg as United attempt to leapfrog Chelsea and Arsenal to reclaim top spot.
Meanwhile, Ferguson intends to name Owen Hargreaves in his 25-man Champions League squad even though he has no real idea when the midfielder will make his Manchester United comeback.
Although Hargreaves is now doing some football training, Ferguson has no idea when the £17 million signing from Bayern Munich will be fit enough to come back into the fold.
Nevertheless, Ferguson feels it is worth picking Hargreaves among the players that must be submitted to UEFA by the end of the month and who will be the bedrock of United's quest for glory in Madrid on May 22.
"Yes, Owen will probably be in my Champions League squad,'' confirmed Ferguson. "It will be finalised in the next ten days and unless something untoward happens I would imagine we will be picking him.''
Having trust in his own body seems to have been an issue for Hargreaves, which is perhaps not surprising given he knows his career is at stake if his comeback bid fails. Yet there have been some positive signs, even if a full recovery has so far proved elusive.
"Owen is still training with the reserves,'' said Ferguson. "Now it is two days on and one day off and he is preparing to get to the proper levels. He has done two or three sessions with us in the last couple of weeks and did very well in Qatar last week. But it is a process and hopefully we will get to the point where he feels confident about playing again.''