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Manchester United injury update | Rio Ferdinand may return in time for Stoke City

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Saturday sucked. Champions move on. There is still a title to defend and an opportunity to go two titles clear of rival Liverpool in the grand picture of England's footballing history -- that would certainly trump any FA Cup Round 4 victory in 2012. Anyway (trying not to be bitter)...

There's a bit of possible good news in regards to the dire and unending injury situation to the Manchester United squad: Rio Ferdinand may be in line for a recovery from his chronic back issue in time for Tuesday's league clash with Stoke City at Old Trafford. Although the former United and England captain's back injury has proven unpredictable in recent times, manager Sir Alex Ferguson appears hopeful of the defender's return -- here is the United's boss comments in regards to it prior to United's match at Anfield versus Liverpool on Saturday:

"Rio only had one real training session on Friday and we couldn't gamble with only that preparion behind him [for the FA Cup clash]. He'll train tomorrow and on Monday and could be ready for Tuesday."

Source: ManUtd.com

In addition to this news, Fergie indicated that he is hopeful that talisman Wayne Rooney and influential winger Nani could possibly be fit for United's trip to Stamford Bridge on Sunday for an important league clash versus Chelsea FC. With the current injury to Phil Jones -- and obviously to the season-ending one to captain Nemanja Vidic -- a return of Ferdinand would provide much needed depth at center-back for the squad -- more than anything, it provides an opportunity to rotate the squad. Despite the defeat at Anfield, Rafael's impressive performance at right-back signaled a return to his previous promise and it allowed Chris Smalling to operate in his natural center-back position.