Ferdinand hopes to sign new United deal 'in days not weeks'

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The Independent Football

Rio Ferdinand is hopeful he will agree a new Manchester United contract "in days rather than weeks", but refuses to put a precise timescale on negotiations.

The United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, has called on Ferdinand to end speculation over his future by signing an extension to a deal that is due to expire in 2007, and the England defender said: "We will keep going and, fingers crossed, it will be over in days rather than weeks. But with negotiations, you never know how long it is going to take."

Gary Neville is set to escape extra punishment over the red card he received on Tuesday. The United full-back was sent off for violent conduct during the second half of his side's defeat at Everton after he kicked the ball into the crowd.

The incident raised the prospect of intervention by Merseyside Police and a Football Association charge. However, the FA is unlikely to investigate the incident further, while Merseyside Police have received no public complaints.

The Blackburn captain, Andy Todd, has escaped a ban following his collision with Arsenal's Robin van Persie in last Saturday's FA Cup semi-final. An FA disciplinary commission found the charge of violent conduct not proven.

The Bolton striker El Hadji Diouf is to appear before a magistrates' court over an alleged spitting incident involving fans at Middlesbrough. The Senegalese international, on loan from Liverpool, is accused of disorderly conduct following an incident in November.