Injury-jinxed Ferdinand facing battle to save career
Rio Ferdinand is facing a fight to save his Manchester United career following Alex Ferguson's admission that the defender's calf injury is likely to keep him sidelined for the rest of the season.
Ferdinand has yet to return to training since suffering the injury during the pre-match warm-up prior to United's defeat at Wolves on February 5.
"We aren't looking at this as a short-term situation -- we will be lucky to get Rio back for some part of the season," said Ferguson.
Despite the manager's insistence that the 32-year-old still has "plenty of years ahead", Ferdinand's increasing susceptibility to lengthy injury lay-offs has left the United manager preparing for life without the £30m centre-half at the heart of his defence. Ferguson already expects central defenders Nemanja Vidic -- whose calf injury will keep him out until the trip to West Ham on April 2 -- and Chris Smalling to steer United through the final two months of the campaign.
Saturday's game against Bolton will be the 58th Premier League fixture that Ferdinand has missed since the start of the 2008-09 season and Ferguson accepts that the player's latest injury problem shows no sign of clearing soon.
Ferguson, meanwhile, had a parting shot at the English FA after accepting his five-game touchline ban for criticising referee Martin Atkinson, which will begin against Bolton Wanderers at Old Trafford tomorrow.
The Manchester United manager, who will watch his horse, What A Friend, race for the Gold Cup at Cheltenham today, had considered appealing against the ban, and £30,000 fine, imposed by an FA regulatory commission on Wednesday.
However, following talks with United chief executive David Gill and the club's legal advisers yesterday morning, Ferguson decided not to appeal, to avoid the possibility of having his ban extended beyond the Premier League trip to Arsenal on May 1.
Ferguson, who was charged with improper conduct for casting doubt on Atkinson's integrity by calling for a "fair referee" following the 2-1 defeat at Chelsea earlier this month -- a match United were winning 1-0 but lost to a controversial penalty from Frank Lampard -- remains unrepentant about his actions, however.
Ferguson described the punishment as "disappointing", adding that football "is the only industry you can't tell the truth in. So anyway, it's in the past, they (FA) are not worth it" (© Daily Telegraph, London)
- Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has been given a one-match touchline ban by UEFA for his criticism of the Swiss referee Massimo Busacca following Arsenal's Champions League defeat by Barcelona this month. Samir Nasri has also been banned for one match.