Ferguson fears his World Cup players will miss start of season

United manager to monitor progress of Rooney, Evra and Vidic after squad jet off for US tour without them
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The Independent Football

Sir Alex Ferguson has said that the majority of Manchester United's World Cup players are unlikely to feature in the club's Premier League opener against Newcastle next month.

Among them is Wayne Rooney, who will find out tomorrow whether he is liable for up to £4.5m in compensation owed to his former management company. Paul Stretford, Wayne Rooney's agent, is likely to be present at the hearing in Manchester in the footballer's absence. Rooney is being sued by sports management firm Proactive after Stretford left the company in 2008 and kept Rooney and his wife Coleen as clients. Proactive claims it is owed 20 per cent of the couple's earnings since the split.

Others likely to miss the start of the season, meanwhile, include Michael Carrick, the France and South Korea captains Patrice Evra and Park Ji-sung, the Serbia defender Nemanja Vidic and the new signing Javier Hernandez of Mexico.

Rio Ferdinand is hopeful of being fit to face Newcastle after injury prevented him captaining England, while Nani was in the squad that flew out for a pre-season tour of America after being ruled out of Portugal's World Cup campaign.

Owen Hargreaves' long-term knee troubles meant that he never entered Fabio Capello's thoughts for the World Cup and a fresh setback recently has definitely ruled him out of the start of the new season.

With regards to those who did play in South Africa, though, Ferguson will bide his time over assessing them ahead of the Newcastle game at Old Trafford on Monday 16 August.

United jetted off without any of their World Cup players for their pre-season tour of America, although Hernandez will link up with the squad on 27 July in time to face his former club Chivas three days later.

After a training camp in Chicago, United will take on Celtic, Philadelphia Union, Kansas City Wizards and the MLS All-Stars before the Chivas game and the Community Shield back home against Double-winners Chelsea.

Ferguson said: "Even the [Community] Shield does not come onto the agenda as a need-to-win game, it's being used as the final part of preparation.

"That's on 8 August, then there are internationals during that week, and we have the first game the following Monday against Newcastle.

"In that time, after we've surveyed the fitness of the ones who've been at the World Cup because they don't come back until 28 July, we'll really know if any of them or all of them should play in the opening game. I have the feeling we'll probably not play them all but maybe one or two will play in it."

Ryan Giggs likes the American way of life but has played down the prospect of ending his career in Major League Soccer. United's record appearance holder, heading into his 18th season at Old Trafford, will be building up his fitness at the club's training camp in Chicago.

Such is the esteem he is held in, Giggs managed, age 36, to secure a one-year contract extension, and the one-club man is expected to finish his career where it began in the 1991-92 season.

Asked about the possibility of him playing in MLS, Giggs said: "Being in America you have a great lifestyle, good for raising a family. The play is getting better. I still have a year left with Manchester United. After that maybe, maybe I will be too old."

United take on Celtic in Toronto on Friday and Giggs, who has played 838 times for United, scoring 155 goals, knows the team face some tricky tests in the coming weeks.

He said: "MLS has grown and the success of the US in the World Cup can only have helped football.

"We want to get our fitness. It is a good opportunity to get our rhythm against good competition."

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