Alex Ferguson ponders playing Ji-Sung Park against Manchester City to add solidity to United midfield

 

Sir Alex Ferguson is giving deep consideration to recalling Ji-Sung Park tonight for his first Premier League start in three months – a move which reflects his determination to take at least a point from the Etihad.

United have been working for several days in training with a system in which Park operates in a packed, five-man midfield, with Wayne Rooney the solitary striker. Ferguson also sees experience as critical to the effort to secure a point which would leave United four points away from their 20th title with two games to play. But in a sign that Roberto Mancini is also disinclined to gamble with an attacking starting XI, Nigel de Jong is under consideration for a start in a formation which would see Yaya Touré pushed on to operate behind a lone striker – mirroring Ferguson's own thinking.

The impact Tevez has made and City's greater need of a win may well tilt Mancini to the view that he and Sergio Aguero must be in the City starting XI. Mario Balotelli is almost certain to be kept on the bench. Mancini goes into the game with no injury problems. With Micah Richards recovered from a hamstring problem to take his place in Mancini's first-choice back four, six will be selected from Touré, De Jong, Gareth Barry, James Milner, David Silva, Tevez and Aguero, with some players missing out altogether and watching from the stand.

Ferguson has indicated that his coaching staff have been working on "two or three things" and Park has been one of them. He has slipped almost entirely out of favour, with no game time since the Europa League elimination in Bilbao on 15 March.

Park’s selection risks reducing Rooney to a frustrated individual in the lone striker role. He also operated there, with Park and Giggs behind in a five-man midfield, for the desperate Champions League exit at Basle on December 7. Both Luis Nani and Jonny Evans involved for the entirety of Saturday morning’s training session at their South Wales get-away. Nani appears to be fit and unders consideration, having missed some of the practice match that followed Friday’ fitness session after taking a heavy challenge to his ankle. Jonny Evans, who sustained a foot injury against Everton eight days ago, is likely to miss. He missed much of last week's training, though did participate fully on Saturday. United left the Vale hotel and golf complex in heavy rain early yesterday morning.

Nani appears to be fit and unders consideration, having missed some of the practice match that followed Friday’ fitness session after taking a heavy challenge to his ankle.

Jonny Evans, who sustained a foot injury against Everton eight days ago, is likely to miss. He missed much of last week's training, though did participate fully on Saturday.

United left the Vale hotel and golf complex in heavy rain early yesterday morning.

Al Wasl, the club Diego Maradona manages in the United Arab Emirates, claimed yesterday that he would be flying into Manchester for tonight's game to see his son-in-law Sergio Aguero.

Ferguson's preparations have been boosted by Paul Scholes offering the first clear indication that wants at least one more season before he finally retires for good. Scholes' return from retirement, before January's FA Cup win over tonight's opponents, has revived his club's season and the 37-year-old revealed in an interview for the French Telefoot channel broadcast yesterday: "Probably I was not quite ready [for coaching]. I don't know what the future holds but I'll get another chance [at coaching] in a couple of years."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there