Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson held a press conference on Wednesday at Old Trafford ahead of tomorrow's Europa League tie with Athletic Bilbao. During it, he provided an update on his squad's injury situation -- the news is certainly positive. Anderson -- who was in the 18 against Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend but was an unused substitute -- is available for selection versus their La Liga opponents. Goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard is nearing a return as well but he is still unavailable for tomorrow's match. Here is what the United boss had to say about each of these players:
"Anderson was a sub on Sunday. He's back now and fit, training very well. He'll be involved tomorrow. It's good to get a player of that quality back for the run-in. Anders is training now. He's doing the running but it will take two or three weeks before he gets to the football side of it. He's progressing very well, though"
-Ferguson | Source: ManUtd.com
Paul Scholes was absent from training on Wednesday but Fergie said that he was merely given a day off and that he could still play a role versus Athletic. Fergie also revealed that Tom Cleverley is back to full training with the first-team and he also expects Antonio Valencia to return to the team on Monday.
"We just gave Paul a day off. We gave him a rest. He was indoors. Paul and Ryan [Giggs] don't train every day. We give them certain days off. Cleverley's back training today with the first team. He's been with the physios for a few days but he's now back in our control. [Antonio] Valencia should join us on Monday. Then, apart from Nemanja Vidic and Darren Fletcher, that gives us a full squad. Hopefully it stays that way until the end of the season."
Fergie also expressed enthusiasm at the positive vibes at the club right now:
"It's an exciting time at the club. We had a fantastic result on Sunday. If we have the full squad available for us, it's going to help us."
He also shared these general statement's on United's European performances this season -- he said that his side needs a wake-up call:
"It's a very difficult tie. All the work Bilbao have done has been very impressive. They're a very progressive team in Spain at the moment and it's going to be very difficult for us. We need to waken up, there's not question about that. Some of our European form has been disapppointing. But it's an opportunity to progress and we want to take that opportunity, although it's going to need a very good performance. The manager was honest enough to reflect on the Champions League exit and wonder what may have been the problem, after doing so well to reach three finals in four years. I don't know if it's because we're making too many changes in these games," he pondered. "Certainly against Ajax in the second leg we did that. We also made mistakes in the group stages. It's our own fault. The Basel game will always be remembered for the carelessness of our performance. We were a bit unlucky against Benfica at home but, at that point, we needed to beat them. It was a disappointment but tomorrow I'm playing a strong team and I hope that makes a difference."
United has a deep squad and it is one that nearing a return to full health. However, despite what the manager says publicly, the undoubted priority for the club is the title-chase for the Premier League. Thus, it is reasonable to expect the squad to be rotated tomorrow. Ando is probably given a start while Scholes is likely rested from the start at least. Chris Smalling is now available after the blow to the head he received last week while on England duty and he likely will feature. It's reasonable to guess that the da Silva twins will given starts as well. The duo of Javier Hernandez (Chicharito) and Dimitar Berbatov is a possibility as well.