Wednesday 13 December 2017

Vidic puts country before club

Mark Ogden

Manchester United will be hoping that Nemanja Vidic does not suffer a recurrence of his calf problem when he makes an early return from injury for Serbia tonight.

The United skipper is set to captain his country against Estonia in Tallinn, just two weeks after suffering the calf strain that had left Red Devils manager Alex Ferguson concerned about the defender's prospects of facing West Ham at Upton Park on Saturday.

Vidic had initially been omitted from Vladimir Petrovic's squad for the Euro 2012 qualifying double-header against Northern Ireland and Estonia.

The centre-half underwent intensive treatment at United's Carrington training ground last week before flying to Belgrade in time to watch the 2-1 victory over Northern Ireland last Friday.

Vidic then trained with his Serbian team-mates the next day before flying to Estonia, where Petrovic declared the 29-year-old fit to play.

Petrovic said: "Vidic is with us again and he is ready to play from the beginning. My only concern is about the condition of the pitch because it is a winter's landscape."

Although United confirmed yesterday that Vidic had joined up with Serbia, it is unclear what Ferguson's thoughts were on his captain representing his country so soon after suffering an injury which forced him to miss the Champions League victory against Marseille and the 1-0 Premier League win against Bolton.

Serbia's precarious position in their Euro 2012 qualifying group, where they lie third, six points adrift of group leaders Italy, has placed huge importance on the game in Estonia tonight, thereby prompting Vidic to answer his nation's call.

But, with United battling a manpower shortage in defence due to injury and suspension, any recurrence of Vidic's calf problem would leave Ferguson struggling to field a recognised back four at West Ham. They are already without the suspended Jonny Evans, plus injured duo Rio Ferdinand and John O'Shea.

Ferguson, meanwhile, is expected to be present in the United States today when United will announce details of the club's tour of the US this summer, which will conclude with a lucrative encounter with Barcelona in Washington DC on July 30.

Manchester City's hopes of restoring lost momentum after the international break have been a dealt a blow by a mounting defensive injury crisis which is likely to deprive them of Jerome Boateng and Micah Richards for much of the run-in.

Boateng will have tests today on knee cartilage damage sustained during the warm-up for Germany's win over Kazakhstan last Saturday, which the national team doctor has already declared requires surgery.

Richards is to install an oxygen chamber in his house in a bid to recover from a hamstring injury in time to play against Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final, but his chances are rated next to nil.

Star striker Carlos Tevez is facing a race against time to be fit for the visit of Sunderland on Sunday. And manager roberto Mancini's problems don't end there as he must deal with the fall-out of a training ground prank which saw Mario Balotelli throw a dart in the direction of a youth team player.

United's Premier League clash with Chelsea at Old Trafford has been put back 24 hours to May 8 at 4.10pm.

Irish Independent

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