Nani out but Vidic poised for Man United return
MANCHESTER, United Kingdom (AFP) –
Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson revealed on Friday that Portuguese winger Nani will be out until next year, as the Premier League leaders’ injury problems continue.
But Ferguson has received better news about central defender Nemanja Vidic, who could make a first-team return on Wednesday when United conclude their successful Champions League group campaign at home to Romania’s CFR Cluj.
Vidic has been plagued with a knee injury that has limited him to five appearances for United this season, following an injury-ravaged campaign in 2011-12 that saw his season ended in early December.
“The last year and a half, he has probably only played 10 or 12 games, something like that,” said Ferguson.
“I think the best way is for us to let him decide himself when he is ready, he’s got the experience and knows what’s best for him and when is the right time for him to come back into the team.
“He started training during the week and did okay. He was not involved in the real competitive part but at least he is back in training with the first team, which is good news.
“It would be nice to play him on Wednesday in the European game and I wouldn’t be afraid to play him on Wednesday. He’s done all his work, he would be well short of match practice but I wouldn’t be averse to playing him.
“But it’s amazing that we have had so many defensive injuries for such a long period and now the defenders are back, we’ve got two wide players out injured.”
Antonio Valencia, with a hip problem, is the other winger currently sidelined, although his is a short-term problem, in contrast to Nani, whose hamstring injury will keep him out for the rest of the calendar year.
“Nani is out, maybe for a long spell — four or five weeks,” said Ferguson. “Hamstrings are hamstrings and he just needs time.”
Meanwhile, Ferguson has rejected the suggestion that his team’s form, along with that of neighbours and defending champions Manchester City, has already turned the Premier League title chase into a two-horse race.
A 1-0 mid-week win over West Ham United saw Ferguson’s men open a seven-point lead over Chelsea, the side considered most likely to challenge the two Manchester clubs.
But Ferguson is not yet ready to dismiss the credentials of Rafael Benitez’s new club.
“It’s early-season,” said Ferguson. “It’s only the end of November, so I don’t think you can be certain by saying it’s a two-horse race at this time.
“Over the years, we’ve always hoped the top five, or top six, are all capable of winning the league but eventually it ends up being a two-horse race.
“Year after year it’s been like that, when you look at the space between the top two teams (and the rest) last year, the gap between ourselves and City.
“The important thing is you look at yourself. You need to stay up there all the time and this is not an easy league to do that.”