Ferdinand pursues peak fitness

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The Independent Online

Rio Ferdinand believes a strict training regime prepared for him by Manchester United's new fitness coach will stand him in good stead for his return from suspension next month.

Rio Ferdinand believes a strict training regime prepared for him by Manchester United's new fitness coach will stand him in good stead for his return from suspension next month.

Ferdinand is able to play from 20 September after serving an eight-month ban for missing a drugs test. He has not played competitive football since the turn of the year but the Italian fitness coach, Valter di Salvo, is preparing the England central defender for his return.

Ferdinand said: "He [Salvo] has worked at Lazio and Real Madrid, so he's worked with the very best before and you feel comfortable and confident in what they are doing. Our training will hopefully pay off later on in the season where we will be able to keep kicking on in games, especially the later stages of matches."

The manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, has also confirmed that his efforts to persuade the United board to sign a striker before the transfer window closes at the end of the month have failed.

"I would really love to bring in a new face but if I'm being honest, I don't think it will happen," Ferguson said.

Ruud van Nistelrooy (hernia), Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (knee) and Louis Saha (knee) are all out, but the club's directors view the situation as a short-term problem, with Diego Forlan and David Bellion able to support Alan Smith.

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