Rio Ferdinand could feature for Manchester United against Chelsea
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has not entirely ruled Rio Ferdinand out of Wednesday's Champions League clash with Chelsea, but the deposed England captain is more likely to return from injury next weekend.
Ferdinand has not made an appearance since suffering a calf problem in the warm-up prior to the Barclays Premier League defeat at Wolves at the beginning of February.
So slow had been the 32-year-old's progress that Ferguson had raised doubts over his ability to get back on the pitch before the end of the season.
However, Ferdinand has resumed training this week and, so far, come through without a reaction.
It leaves Ferguson with a dilemma about whether to push Ferdinand through another session tomorrow - when his team-mates are tackling West Ham at Upton Park - in the knowledge that if he comes through without a hitch, he could be rushed back to face Carlo Ancelotti's men, or hold him back until next week, meaning it will be the Premier League encounter with Fulham that will mark his return.
"Rio has started training," said Ferguson.
"He has only been training two days and then just a light session today.
"I have to decide whether we bring in him tomorrow, or give him a day off and start him on Wednesday again.
"He is more likely to be fit for Fulham."
Yet Ferguson may ultimately conclude it is worth taking a gamble given none of his other injured defenders will be back to face Chelsea, whilst a few may be available for Fulham.
Rafael, John O'Shea and Wes Brown could all tackle Mark Hughes' men. But none of that trio will make the trip to Stamford Bridge, when Jonny Evans will be available as he serves a three-match domestic ban.
None of this helps his team selection tomorrow, when Ferguson accepts filling the right-back slot is going to be a major issue.
"We have to solve that and find the right solution," he said.
It seems almost certain Brazilian Fabio will fill the void, with Chris Smalling partnering skipper Nemanja Vidic in central defence.
At least Ferguson finally has options in midfield.
Park Ji-sung could make his first start since he left for Asian Cup duty in Qatar, whilst Anderson is likely to be on the bench at Upton Park after recovering from a knee injury it was initially suggested would rule him out for the season.
However, Darren Fletcher is still troubled by a virus, whilst Owen Hargreaves' United career now looks to be at an end following the shoulder problem he picked up in training.
"It is another huge setback for the lad," said Ferguson.
Latest in Sport
Mats Hummels transfer latest: Manchester United to revive interest as Liverpool's Tiago Ilori could hold the key to move
Arturo Vidal to Manchester United: Midfielder set to force through move to Louis van Gaal's Red Devils - reports
Manchester United transfer news: United given new hope in race for Juan Cuadrado as Barcelona talks stall
Liverpool transfer news: Brendan Rodgers plans more Anfield signings this summer
Chelsea transfer news: Jose Mourinho confirms Fernando Torres is staying at Stamford Bridge
- 1 Scientists create transparent mouse complete with see-through organs
- 2 Pope Francis issues top 10 tips for happiness
- 3 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 4 Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
- 5 Amazonian Indian tribe filmed making contact with Brazil village in rare video footage
Land for gas: Merkel and Putin discussed secret deal could end Ukraine crisis
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
Richard Dawkins tweets: 'Date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse'
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – Britain as others see us
A new Russian revolution: The cracks are starting to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc