Rio Ferdinand did not break a bone in his foot during Manchester United's feisty 2-2 draw at Middlesbrough on Sunday and further positive news for United came from Italy yesterday when Roma's talismanic striker, Francesco Totti, was left out of the squad travelling to Manchester for tomorrow night's Champions League quarter-final second leg.
United have a two-goal lead from the first leg, which should mean they can cope without Ferdinand, particularly as Totti's ongoing thigh strain will be expected to subdue Roma mentally as well as physically. But there was no news on how serious the damage to Ferdinand's foot is and with Nemanja Vidic out for possibly another fortnight, Sir Alex Ferguson will be anxious not to have Ferdinand missing when Arsenal arrive at Old Trafford on Sunday for a crucial Premier League match.
Ferdinand, 29, limped out of Sunday's draw at Boro after 70 minutes and departed the Riverside Stadium with his left foot in a protective plastic cast, but a club scan yesterday revealed no fracture.
"Rio went for a scan on Monday and we can confirm that he has not suffered any break," was the brief statement from United in the afternoon.
Ferguson was as optimistic as he could be about Ferdinand on Sunday but he also talked up his replacement, the 21-year-old Spaniard Gerard Pique. "Pique came on and did brilliantly," Ferguson said. "The lad's a terrific player and I think that actually helped us. We've got great confidence in the lad and he's come through very well."
Pique partnered Wes Brown for the last 20 minutes at Boro, Brown having begun at right-back. Pique has experience of Roma having played in the Champions League group game in December in the Olympic Stadium, when he scored the opening goal in the 1-1 draw.
Pique, Brown and John O'Shea are Ferguson's centre-halves to choose from – should Ferdinand not recover – with Owen Hargreaves a possible cover at right-back. Hargreaves took up that role on Sunday when he came on.
Gary Neville was in the directors' box at the Riverside having been named in United's squad for the first time this season. Ferguson may consider a Champions League tie an unsuitable match for his return. Mikaël Silvestre, like Neville, is another long-term injured United defender to have featured in recent reserve games.Reuse content