Fergie wants big guns fighting fit
Manchester United's World Cup players are set to be fast-tracked to fitness in time for the opening Premier League clash, with Newcastle on August 16, following the return of fitness coach Tony Strudwick from the club's tour of North America.
Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick, Patrice Evra, Nemanja Vidic and Park Ji-Sung are due to report for pre-season training on Wednesday after being given extended leave by Alex Ferguson following their participation in the World Cup.
And with Ferguson's squad arriving in Kansas City yesterday ahead of this evening's friendly with Kansas City Wizards, Strudwick has instead flown back to Manchester to oversee the fitness work of those players who were on international duty in South Africa.
Ferguson had admitted that he was considering omitting his World Cup stars from the Community Shield clash against Chelsea on August 8 and the season opener against Newcastle in order to avoid rushing them back into action.
But the United manager is now planning to field all of his leading players in a friendly against an Airtricity League XI in Dublin on August 4, prompting Strudwick to return to Manchester.
Strudwick has been credited with taking the fitness of Ferguson's players to a new level since leaving Blackburn Rovers to replace the Italian Valter di Salvo, who left United for Real Madrid, in the summer of 2007.
The former English Football Association fitness coach has overseen the introduction of GPS technology at United, which allows Ferguson's coaches to track every movement of the players before analysing the data on a computer.
While Strudwick returns to United's Carrington training base, Ferguson is preparing to welcome new signing Javier Hernandez when the squad move on to Houston tomorrow.
United face the Major League Soccer All-Stars in the Texan city and Mexico forward Hernandez, a £7m signing from Chivas Guadalajara, is due to make his debut in the game on Wednesday evening.
USA captain Landon Donovan, who spent three months of last season on loan at Everton, is due to captain the All-Stars as they defend their unbeaten record against English opposition.
"I was told that a Premier League team has never won the All-Star game, so that's a goal for us, but it'll give us the chance to see first-hand the quality there is in the MLS," United midfielder Ryan Giggs said.
"It would definitely be nice to become the first English team to beat the All-Stars."