Injured Neville returns home

Defender faces lay-off but Macheda and Park provide star turns on United tour
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The Independent Football

Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed Gary Neville will miss the next 10 days of Manchester United's pre-season programme after suffering a groin injury in training yesterday.

Neville has flown back to England for treatment and has been ruled out of the remainder of United's Far East tour, the Audi Cup in Munich next week, when United will play two games, and, in all probability, the Old Trafford friendly with Valencia on 5 August.

"Gary Neville tweaked his groin yesterday in training," Ferguson said yesterday after his side's 3-2 win over FC Seoul. "He will probably be ready in about 10 days. It would have been silly to keep him here if he was not going to play so we sent him home."

Given the muscular injuries that sidelined Neville for the best part of two seasons, it is a worrying development for the 34-year-old, although there is no suggestion at this stage that his career is under threat.

At least Ferguson has plenty of options at right-back, with Rafael Da Silva, Wes Brown and John O'Shea all capable of fulfiling the role.

It is up front where Ferguson is deriving most pleasure from the pre-season campaign though.

Wayne Rooney and Federico Macheda were both on target for the second time in pre-season, with Dimitar Berbatov breaking his duck by nodding home the winner midway through the second half.

For Macheda in particular, an impressive Far East tour is a major bonus, as it will give his manager faith that, in the 17-year-old, he has someone capable of being fourth striker to Rooney, Berbatov and Michael Owen.

"Federico's goal was excellent," enthused Ferguson. "His movement was very good and he always seems to do well when he gets on the shoulder of defenders."

The other star of the show was Park Ji-Sung, sent on for the final 17 minutes in his home country despite being well short of match practice after an extended summer break, who received an ovation similar to those David Beckham tends to get

His reward for four years of hard graft will be a new United contract, which Ferguson feels is fully deserved.

"His performance level in the last few years has been outstanding," Ferguson said. "His contract is coming to an end so giving him a new one is an appropriate step to ensure he stays with us for the next few years."