Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson just concluded his weekly conference ahead of Sunday's match at Swansea City and during it, the main piece of news that he delivered is that Rafael is still out. The Brazilian missed last weekend's match versus Sunderland as well due to a hamstring injury. Here's the update from the gaffer on his squad's injuries:
"Jonny [Evans] has had one or two injuries but hopefully they're behind him now. He's fit for Sunday, while [Shinji] Kagawa takes training with the first team on Monday. Vida [Nemanja Vidic] is doing great in training, it's just a matter of picking the time to bring him back. It gives me options with [Chris] Smalling, [Phil] Jones, [Rio] Ferdinand, Evans. It's very good, and better for us. Rafa won't make Sunday's game as he's still out with a hamstring. Nani is still injured. Apart from those players, we're all right."
- Ferguson | Source: ManUtd.com
With Rafael out, expect Phil Jones to deputise at right-back. In central-defense, Fergie hints that captain Nemanja Vidic may not be quite ready yet for a start so expect two of either Rio Ferdinand, Chris Smalling, or Jonny Evans to start at Liberty Stadium.
In attack, it continues to be a slow return for Shinji Kagawa. The Japanense international, though, appears to nearing a return and he seems likely to feature at some point during the upcoming congested fixture list during the festive period. For now, Wayne Rooney will continue to operate in the No.10 role. With Nani out, that leaves only Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young as the only winger options. Rooney, though, along with Danny Welbeck and Ryan Giggs, are capable of putting in a shift out wide as well of course.
Here is Fergie on the upcoming fixture list:
"This time of year, all the games are challenges and they come thick and fast now up to the cup tie on January 5. Utilising the squad will be important, as will picking the right team, but hopefully we can get through it and be in the same position as we are now."
Here's what the boss had to say about Sunday's opponent:
"You've seen the results they have had and the progress they have made as a football club over the last years. The important thing for me is they try to play and have the courage to play their football, which is good."
Fergie also addressed the morning speculation in the papers that Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, and Rio Ferdinand would all be exiting Old Trafford at season's end. He essentially indicated that nothing has been decided yet for any of those three:
"I would be surprised if Paul had spoken to someone without speaking to me – and he hasn't – so we can dismiss that. Ryan could play for another year or two. Rio has been terrific. The speculation comes from our policy of only giving older players one-year contracts."