Rio Ferdinand wishes Joe Cole well at West Ham - but not tomorrow

Manchester United defender played with Cole at Upton Park

Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has wished old mate Joe Cole good luck as he looks to rekindle past glories at West Ham.

Cole and Ferdinand used to be team-mates in a Hammers squad that also spawned Frank Lampard, Michael Carrick and Jermain Defoe.

All five went on to enjoy success elsewhere, whilst West Ham twice lost their top-flight status in 2003 and 2011.

Now Cole is looking to rebuild himself though, accepting the chance to re-sign for West Ham on a free transfer to escape the difficulties he was experiencing at Liverpool.

And though there will be no sentiment on show at Old Trafford tomorrow evening when Manchester United look to dump West Ham out of the FA Cup, Ferdinand is hopeful Cole will prove to be an inspirational signing.

"The era we had there will be part of West Ham's history forever now, with so many players who went on to play for England and win league titles with other clubs," said Ferdinand.

"It is unfortunate for West Ham those players did not stay there and their presence get built upon.

"That is all history now I suppose. But Joe Cole has gone there to rewrite a bit of his own history in the coming months.

"It would be good to see him do something positive, but not this week. We want to get through this round."

Though it is 12 years since Ferdinand left Upton Park, first for Leeds, then, a couple of seasons later to Manchester United for a then British record £29.1million, his attachment to the London club remains strong.

Indeed, Ferdinand can see strong similarities between the close bonds forged within the Hammers' inner sanctum and those that exist at United.

"West Ham is special," said Ferdinand.

"I look at West Ham as being similar to Manchester United in terms of their history and the way they keep all their people for so many years.

"It is a club that is close to my heart because I came through the ranks there.

"After Manchester United, they are the first result I look out for and I am sure it will always be that way."

After grinding his way through the full 90 minutes of United's Premier League victory over Liverpool on Sunday, Ferdinand seems unlikely to be risked tomorrow with a vital trip to Tottenham looming at the weekend.

Skipper Nemanja Vidic is expected to sit the game out too, as is Jonny Evans, who is nursing a hamstring strain. Ashley Young is kept out by a knee injury, even if United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed the damage sustained in collision with Daniel Agger is not as bad as first feared.

"Young has got a dull knock, a little bit of a strain on the knee, but it's nothing serious," Ferguson told MUTV.

"I think he'll be back next week. Maybe not for Tottenham but, the week after, he should be okay."

On the positive side, Wayne Rooney and Nani are set to return after their absences.

Rooney has not been seen since suffering a knee injury during training on Christmas Day, meaning he has not had chance to erase the memory of an awful performance at Swansea.

Since then Robin van Persie has added another six goals to his tally, Javier Hernandez three and Danny Welbeck picked up man-of-the-match honours against Liverpool.

Clearly then, Rooney cannot endure a sluggish return from injury, as has been the case on too many occasions for Ferguson's liking.

Nani has been out for over two months and with speculation about his future beyond the end of the season remaining intense, he also needs to make an impact.

And for the entire United squad - with the exceptions of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Darren Fletcher and, from his time at Arsenal, van Persie - there is the added incentive of a first FA Cup winners' medal at the end of this particular road to glory.

"I don't know if (not winning the FA Cup) will leave a hole," said Ferdinand, who missed the 2004 triumph over Millwall due to suspension.

"I will only be able to tell you when I retire.

"It is something I would love to rectify and change though. Fingers crossed we will win it this year."

PA

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