Ferdinand to play in Manchester derby

Rio Ferdinand will face Manchester City in the Carling Cup this evening after denying a charge of violent conduct, Press Association Sport understands.

Ferdinand had until 6pm this evening to respond to the Football Association but has got his plea in early, confirming that he will be in Sir Alex Ferguson's United line-up for the semi-final decider at Old Trafford.

The 31-year-old will now face a disciplinary hearing tomorrow.

The move is a calculated risk because if the FA disciplinary panel decide the appeal is "frivolous", they have the power to impose a greater sanction than the normal three-match suspension for such incidents.

Any more than four and it would put Ferdinand's appearance in the Carling Cup final against Aston Villa at risk should United overcome a 2-1 deficit and knock City out this evening.

Ferdinand caught striker Craig Fagan in the face with his arm during the second-half of United's 4-0 victory over Hull City on Saturday.

As the ball was not even in the penalty area at the time and referee Steve Bennett did not see the incident, Ferdinand's only defence could be that he acted instinctively in response to foul play from Fagan.

It will be down to Ferdinand to prove that, but if he fails, he will miss the Premier League encounters with Arsenal on Sunday, plus Portsmouth on February 6 and Aston Villa on February 10.

Any further punishment would be at the disciplinary panel's discretion and although it tends to be just an additional match, as was the case with Sunderland's Michael Turner following his appeal against the red card he received at Manchester City last month, their powers are limitless.

The fact United have taken this decision is an indication of how seriously Ferguson is taking tonight's encounter.

He now has the option of deploying Ferdinand in central defence alongside Jonny Evans and using the extra experience of Wes Brown at right-back to confront Craig Bellamy.

The Welshman's success against Rafael Da Silva last week was a key factor in City's victory and Ferguson will not want Bellamy to enjoy similar success, meaning Brown could play in the position he filled for the Champions League final against Chelsea in Moscow two years ago.

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