Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson held his weekly press conference today and during it, he revealed that midfielders Paul Scholes, Michael Carrick, and Ryan Giggs would be available for selection for Sunday's away tie versus Newcastle United. The trio were not part of the traveling squad to Romania on Tuesday for the Red Devil's UEFA Champions League group-stage clash with CFR Cluj. The 37-year-old Scholes was simply rested after featuring versus Tottenham Hotspur last weekend while Carrick and Giggs apparently had some sort of mild illness preventing them from traveling.
"We have more or less same squad as the other night, plus Giggs, Scholes and Carrick. Michael had a bug."
-Ferguson | Source: ManUtd.com
That leaves Fergie with a plethora of options in central-midfield as any of those three could be selected as could the trio that started versus Cluj this midweek and versus Newcastle last midweek during a Capital One Cup tie -- Tom Cleverley, Anderson, and Darren Fletcher. An international break follows Sunday's match so no preservation for the following midweek likely needs to be considered.
Defender Jonny Evans was substituted off late in the match versus Cluj and this was concerning because he sustained what was described as a 'dead leg' versus Spurs last weekend. The Northern Irishman apparently came off in Romania due to the same reason. Fergie provided a vague update on the central-defender:
"Jonny Evans is okay - he had a dead leg that he picked up on Saturday against Tottenham and we just took him off towards the end [vs. Cluj]."
The injury situation is quite dire in central-defense as Rio Ferdinand is the only other established first-team center-back that is available for selection right now. Therefore, the status of Evans is hugely important and if he isn't able to feature at
St James' Park Sports Direct Arena on Sunday, then youngster Scott Wootton -- who only has one Capital One Cup match and a substitute's appearance at Cluj for first-team experience -- likely would feature. In that Capital One Cup contest versus Newcastle last midweek, Wootton allowed Papiss Cisse to slip him for the striker's second-half goal.
When further discussing the center-back injury situation, Fergie did indicate that Chris Smalling is nearing a return -- although he is not available for Sunday's match:
"The only one who has chance of coming back soon is Smalling. He has started training on the football side and that helps us particularly as we have problem at centre-back. That helps us, particularly as we have a problem at centre-back. [Phil] Jones is still out."
Ashley Young has now been out for quite some time as well and Fergie provided an update on his situation:
"Ashley will start training while the internationals are on, particularly during the second week. He could, at a stretch, be back for the Stoke game [on Saturday 20 October]."
No update was provided on Antonio Valencia but Fergie did indicate prior to the Cluj match that he hoped the winger would be available for this upcoming Newcastle match. The only other natural winger on the squad is Nani and he is strong candidate to feature after not participating versus Cluj. In summary, the likes of Smalling, Jones, Young, and Nemanja Vidic are unavailable while there remains concern about Evans and Valencia.