Ferdinand unsure of his place for Liverpool despite fine comeback

Rio Ferdinand is not thinking about the Manchester United captaincy at present – he is more concerned about getting his regular place back. After three-and-a-half months out with the ankle injury he suffered in a freak collision with Emile Heskey on the first full day of training at the World Cup, Ferdinand finally made his United comeback on Tuesday night.

His return for the Champions League draw with Rangers could not have come at a better time given Sir Alex Ferguson's announcement 24 hours earlier that Gary Neville would no longer wear the captain's armband.

Nemanja Vidic's omission at Old Trafford offered Ferguson the perfect chance to let Ferdinand resume his previously held status as Neville's stand-in.

It puts Ferdinand in pole position to lead the team in Sunday's visit of Liverpool. The only problem is he is not sure of his place. "The manager has a decision to make with the players," said Ferdinand. "There were 10 changes for Rangers and it could be the same again on Sunday. Hopefully I will be picked and part of the team. I have got to get picked first."

Ferdinand's presence was a comfort to new boy Chris Smalling, who was starting his first competitive game for United. A £7m summer arrival from Fulham, Smalling is content to adopt a patient approach, knowing there are so many games looming, opportunities are bound to come.

"When I came here I knew I would be competing with four or five world-class central defenders," Smalling said. "Including pre-season, I have managed to play with all of them now. Hopefully I can link up with them all and build partnerships. This is going to be a busy period for us and I want to put my name in the frame."

Smalling is certainly loving life at the moment. Quite apart from his advancements at United, the former Maidstone defender has secured a place in Stuart Pearce's England Under-21 squad who will try to clinch a place at the European Championships by beating Romania next month.

"In terms of my confidence, it is quite high now," Smalling said. "I have been going away with the Under-21s and that has helped. We have a lot of games at the minute at international level so those plus any I can get with the club will be good.

"It is the only way I can improve. I work hard in training but it is games when the real pressure comes on. That is the thing that tests you."

Ahead of Sunday's encounter at Old Trafford the Liverpool defender Daniel Agger has said that he believes the club's training ground is a happy place again under new manager Roy Hodgson. Rafael Benitez's reign came to a disappointing end last term as the Reds could finish only seventh, their worst Premier League placing for more than a decade, and the club and Benitez soon parted.

At the time there were suggestions the Spaniard had managed to alienate a number of his players – having had public fall-outs with Ryan Babel and Albert Riera – but Agger yesterday said they were all together again under the Englishman's stewardship.

"It is a new team, new players, young players, new staff and I think the mentality you can see on people's faces – they are a lot more happy in training sessions," said the Denmark international.

"When you get a new training session, new staff around you, new methods, it gives you more energy somehow. Obviously the sessions have to be good in the right way but I think it is really important for a team to be happy to play football.

"For me it is really important I am happy when I play football because I think I can perform better then and I think it is the same for everyone."

When asked if he felt the squad had grown stale under Benitez, the 25-year-old added: "I think we have to look at the future, not the past, so I don't think it's relevant. In every training session we focus on the future, we don't look at the past."

News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Arts and Entertainment
'Deep Breath' is Peter Capaldi's first full-length adventure as the twelfth Doctor
TVFirst episode of new series has ended up on the internet
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?