Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson held his weekly press conference earlier today and the headline news is that Nemanja Vidic is ready to return from his latest knee injury. Here's what the gaffer had to say about the captain:
"Nemanja is back in the squad but Jonny Evans is out obviously after his injury last week. Jonny got the injury midway through the first half and he struggled on to half-time, but I always think with muscle injuries that if you start the second half with it it's a problem. Having Vida back in the squad is a big, big one for us: his experience, his ability to head the ball, his offensive qualities are well renowned now and he's our captain. Whether I start him or not, that's another issue. But it's great to have him back. We hope we've given him the proper rehabilitation. Coming back from the last injury, we gave him a long rehabilitation and I thought it was a good one. But unfortunately he suffered another injury. In fact, in the last year and four months or so, I think he's only played about 10 games. That's not a lot of football for a man who's 30, 31. So it's an issue and we're hoping that he sails through it. We'll give him a chance and there will be opportunities for him because he brings that great experience, that warrior-type defending he's renowned for. I don't know whether I'll start him against Sunderland but at least we have him back and given the number of injuries we've had to defenders over the last two or three years, I think it's a bonus for us."
- Ferguson | Source: ManUtd.com
Quite obviously, the return of Vidic is terrific news. Having said that, it's probably best that we as fans be cautiously optimistic. The Serbian defender was undoubtedly a world-class footballer prior to his recent injuries but it's important to keep in mind that he's only featured on thirteen occasions since the start of the 2011-12 season. Assuming that Jonny Evans makes a smooth recovery, we can ease Vida back into the squad due to the depth United have at center-back (i.e. Evans, Rio Ferdinand, Chris Smalling, & Phil Jones). This is Ferguson, the master of being coy in regards to the fitness of his players and team selection choices, so don't be surprised to see the captain start tomorrow versus Sunderland. lt seems more likely, though, that Chris Smalling and Rio Ferdinand will get the starts at center-back with Vida possibly coming on a substitute in the second-half.
Fergie had this update on the rest of the squad as well:
"Shinji [Kagawa] should start training with the first team on Monday, which is good news. He's doing very well now. Nani is still out. Rio's okay, there's no problem with him. We're more or less in good shape."
Well, with the way Fergie declared Antonio Valencia unavailable for last weekend's derby and with him basically strongly hinting that Tom Cleverley would also be out, only for them to both surprisingly get starts in that game, don't be surprised to see Kagawa in the squad tomorrow. He's been reportedly close to a return for the past week or so.
Anders Lindegaard will return for tomorrow as well. The 28-year-old goalkeeper was unavailable for the derby due to the birth of his child. Overall, the squad's fitness is good. It appears that only Nani, Evans, Anderson, and possibly Kagawa are out for Sunderland.