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The Sports Matrix: Tuesday 23 October 2012

Ferguson backs down in dispute with Ferdinand

Sir Alex Ferguson yesterday reassured Rio Ferdinand that the defender has a future at Manchester United, arguing he could remain for another two or three years at the club, and said that their difference of opinion over the weekend involving the "Kick It Out" T-shirt was down to "communication problems".

Ferdinand's contract runs out in June and it was thought that defying his manager on Saturday, combined with his inconsistent form and patchy fitness record, could have led to his departure in the summer. But the Manchester United manager was in conciliatory mood yesterday ahead of tonight's Champions League home match with Braga.

Ferguson, above, went on to explain the "communication problem" with Ferdinand. "I spoke to Rio," he said. "The issue is pretty simple. He felt I should have spoken to him on Friday and I didn't anticipate there would be any problem in the dressing room as far as the T-shirt was concerned.

"I have listened to the conviction of Rio and I can understand his stance." MORE

Terry will wear anti-racist symbol

Exactly one year on from the match which led to him being found guilty of racial abuse, John Terry will wear an anti-racism armband tonight in the Champions League match at Shakhtar Donetsk for the beginning of the organisation Fare's "Action Weeks" across Europe. MORE

Lennon hopes for rare Messi 'off day'

Celtic visit Barcelona tonight in the Champions League, with their manager, Neil Lennon, admitting he is hoping Lionel Messi, scorer of 71 goals in 2012, has a rare off day. "Better teams than us have tried and failed to stop him," he said. "We have to hope he has an off day."

Bolton approach Palace's Freedman

Crystal Palace have given Bolton permission to speak to their manager, Dougie Freedman. The Lancashire club made an  official approach for the 38-year-old to replace Owen Coyle, who was sacked earlier this month with his side 18th in the Championship. MORE

Wilshere plays 90 minutes for U21s

Jack Wilshere continued his return to full fitness yesterday by playing 90 minutes for the Arsenal Under-21s in a 2-1 win at Everton. It was the first time he has completed a competitive game since his 14-month injury absence. Wilshere made both Arsenal goals. MORE

Injured Silva out of City's trip to Ajax

Manchester City will travel to Amsterdam this morning for their crucial Champions League match without their Spanish midfielder David Silva, who has yet to recover from a hamstring injury he recently picked up on international duty.

Armstrong finally stripped of titles

Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles yesterday, after cycling's governing body, the UCI, refused to appeal against Usada's verdict. The head of the UCI, Pat McQuaid, admitted the sport may never be clean. MORE

Brit to drop £18m England shirt deal

England were yesterday looking for a new shirt sponsor after Brit Insurance said they would not renew the contract when it expires in 2014. The £18m agreement, signed in 2010, expires at the end of the Ashes series in Australia. MORE

Copeland rethinks on Rio retirement

The Olympic champion Kat Copeland, who won a surprise gold in London in the lightweight double sculls with Sophie Hosking, has put plans to retire on hold in order to defend her title at the next Olympics in Rio in 2016. MORE

McIlroy takes Euro lead to Shanghai

Unassailable at the top of the US money list, Rory McIlroy takes a Race to Dubai lead of €427,334 (£350,00) into the BMW Masters in Shanghai this week hoping to emulate Luke Donald's double last year. MORE

Ian Herbert

If ever Bradley Wiggins' sport needed its most famous athlete out there, at the vanguard, then it is now, as its reputation becomes more shredded and tattered with each passing day. MORE

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