Ferdinand: It's unrealistic to expect regular football after injury woes
Rio Ferdinand is ready to embrace Alex Ferguson's cautious approach to easing him back into Manchester United's first team after conceding it is "unrealistic" to expect an instant return to regular football.
The 31-year-old, who has spent most of the past two years battling against injuries, delivered a commanding performance alongside Nemanja Vidic at the heart of United's back four during the 1-0 Champions League victory against Valencia in Spain on Wednesday.
But with Ferguson still to be convinced about Ferdinand's ability to withstand run of games, the England defender could find himself on the sidelines again when United visit Sunderland tomorrow.
Ferdinand's appearance against Valencia was only his 43rd in 104 United fixtures since December 2008. Ferguson has been forced to elevate Jonny Evans and pay £12m for Chris Smalling to plan for life after Ferdinand, whose future as England captain now appears under threat.
Against Valencia, however, Ferdinand suggested that he was emerging from the dark tunnel created by his injuries, yet the sight of the £30m defender performing stretching exercises on the pitch during the game highlighted the ongoing concerns over his body's ability to cope with a heavy workload.
With 270 minutes of senior football now under his belt since recovering from a three-month knee-ligament injury, though, Ferdinand admits that, while confident he is back to full fitness, he is ready to trust Ferguson's judgment on his readiness to play.
Ferdinand said: "The manager has said I probably needed a couple of games and I think that is obvious. I've been out for such a long time that to expect me to come back and play bang, bang, bang on the bounce is perhaps unrealistic.
"If the manager asked me to do that, then that's what I would do and I would love to do that. But I trust the manager's judgment and his views on me playing for the rest of the season. Whatever he decides is right at the weekend, I will stand by it." (© Daily Telegraph, London)