Ferdinand's positive scan puts England at odds with Ferguson

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The Independent Online

Steve McClaren will face his first battles of wills with his old manager Sir Alex Ferguson over the international availability of Rio Ferdinand who, scans showed yesterday, has not broken a metatarsal bone in his foot as was first feared when he hobbled off at full-time at Vicarage Road on Saturday.

Manchester United announced yesterday that there was "no conclusive evidence of a fracture" from the scans and, as it stands, Ferdinand, who has bruising to his toe, is not officially out of England's next two Euro 2008 qualifiers against Andorra on Saturday and Macedonia the following Wednesday.

After the match against Watford, Ferguson appeared immediately to rule the 27-year-old out of contention for England duty. "Rio Ferdinand's got a broken toe so I don't think he'll be going [to join up with England]," Ferguson said. He later qualified that, saying, "It looks as if he's got a broken toe."

With Gary Neville already out with a calf injury, McClaren, Ferguson's former assistant at United, would not wish to lose any more first-choice defenders. He would be within his rights to call up Ferdinand to be checked by the Football Association's doctor, although that is likely to antagonise Ferguson.

If Ferdinand is not fit this week, Wes Brown could start alongside John Terry against Andorra, with Luke Young or Phil Neville filling in at right-back.

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