Manchester United are facing defensive problems ahead of Saturday's derby, with Rio Ferdinand unlikely to have recovered from a calf injury in time for the game against City at Old Trafford, and Jonny Evans an early casualty of the international break yesterday.
United's initial two-week prognosis on Ferdinand is proving accurate, with little chance of him recovering from the injury sustained in the warm-up at Wolves on Saturday. United have already prepared themselves for the absence of one or more defenders, by coming to an agreement with the Serbian football federation that Nemanja Vidic will not travel to Tel Aviv to play in the national side's game against Israel tonight. Evans withdrew from the Northern Ireland squad yesterday with an ankle injury and Chris Smalling has withdrawn from England Under-21 duty so Vidic will be sorely needed against the twin threat of Edin Dzeko and Carlos Tevez.
The international break has not helped Sir Alex Ferguson's striking preparations for City either, since Javier Hernandez is due to play for Mexico at 1am tomorrow morning against Bosnia Herzegovina, in Atlanta, Georgia. That means he is unlikely to be back before Friday – probably too late to take a place in the starting line-up for a lunchtime kick-off on Saturday. Ferguson will have to judge the effect of the long flight before deciding whether Hernandez can take a place on the bench for the match. Tevez has not joined the Argentina squad to face Portugal for the friendly in Geneva tonight.
The former United defender David May has arranged a party in the city centre on Friday night to celebrate City's 35 years without silverware but the City goalkeeper Joe Hart has declared that May could be made to look foolish. "[No] we haven't won anything for 35 years," Hart said. "But I assume they are doing it because there won't be many more of them."