Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson just held his pre-match press conference ahead of Sunday's Manchester derby and during it, he essentially revealed nothing. He did say, though, that Tom Cleverley would have a scan this morning on his calf. The midfielder was substituted off at the midweek during a UEFA Champions League tie versus CFR Cluj due to his calf troubling him. With the in-form Anderson going down last weekend with a hamstring injury, and with him being unavailable for the derby, Cleverley hobbling off on Wednesday was hugely concerning for United's engine room prospects for this Manchester City clash. Here's what Ferguson had to say about Cleverley:
"On the injury front, Tom Cleverely will have a scan this morning and we'll see what he's like. It's his calf, which is always a worry, but we'll see."
- Ferguson | Source: ManUtd.com
The gaffer already declared earlier this week that he had much to think about in regards to his selection choices and tactics for the derby. It's hardly surprising that he's being coy. The concern from a United perspective is that the possible available choices in central-midfield -- Michael Carrick, Darren Fletcher, Paul Scholes, and Ryan Giggs -- without Cleverley and Ando lacks the necessary mobility and bite to compete with City's Yaya Toure. Wayne Rooney has featured on the right as of late and perhaps this was done in order to prepare him for a similar role in the derby. Would Ferguson, though, consider using the industrious and versatile Wazza in the center of the park for this encounter?
The wide areas are a concern too because the boss further confirmed that neither Antonio Valencia nor Nani are available for selection on Sunday:
"I know we've got a few injuries at the moment but we've got a big strong squad of players. Nani and Valencia are still out. It will be a few weeks with them."
The 'few weeks' comment is an odd one because Ferguson said just a few weeks ago that Valencia would be returning any day now. Beyond this comment, no further update has been provided about the Ecuadorian winger. With Valencia and Nani out, that essentially leaves Ashley Young as the only natural winger on the team. The Englishman seems destined for a start on the left versus City -- if in fact, Ferguson does not opt for a midfield diamond shape -- so the question remains, who will be on the right? If Rooney moves into the middle, will Danny Welbeck possibly feature as the right-sided attacker?
Nemanja Vidic and Shinji Kagawa are nearing returns:
"I thought Kagawa may have done enough to make the bench on Wednesday but no, he's well short. But I don't think he'll be available until the Sunderland game. Vidic has certainly been doing well in training and it suits his own confidence to play but I think the game on Sunday is a bit soon for him. I think he'll be ready for Sunderland."
This is obviously good news in regards to the Japanese playmaker and for the steely Serbian. Neither was anticipated to be realistically ready for this derby but it would a pleasant sight to see either feature next week versus the Black Cats.
Overall, this press conference revealed very little for the derby. Ferguson can be sly in these team news situations so don't be stunned to if an unexpected name pops up on the team sheet on Sunday. The key concerns are clearly the lack of options in central-midfield and in the wide areas of attack.