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Premier League

Manchester United can cope with loss of Antonio Valencia insists Rio Ferdinand


Rio Ferdinand is confident Manchester United will cope without Antonio Valencia for the next four weeks.

Valencia was only on the field for a matter of minutes in Amsterdam last night, but pulled a hamstring as he helped create Javier Hernandez's match-clinching effort in the 2-0 Europa League win over Ajax.

Although the winger was immediately replaced by Sir Alex Ferguson, the United boss confirmed afterwards that Valencia would be missing for the next four weeks.

The period includes testing Barclays Premier League trips at Norwich and Tottenham, in addition to a Europa League last-16 clash with either Lokomotiv Moscow or Athletic Bilbao providing United progress.

As Valencia has arguably been the Red Devils' best player over the past month, the 26-year-old is going to be missed.

However, as Nani made his comeback from injury against Ajax and Ashley Young continued his search for full fitness by scoring his first goal since September, Ferdinand is confident United have the strength they need.

"It's a really big blow because Antonio's been a fantastic player for us this season," he said.

"But when somebody gets injured or loses form at this club the manager can always call upon another player to perform.

"This is the stage of the season where we need players back and a few of the lads got some good minutes under their belts."

Amongst that group was midfielder Tom Cleverley.

Rated so highly by Ferguson after a blistering start to the season that propelled him into the England squad, Cleverley was ruled out for six weeks when he injured his foot at Bolton at the beginning of September.

Cleverley was just two games into his comeback when he suffered an ankle problem at Everton that ruled him out for over three and a half months.

There were fleeting glimpses last night of the energy Cleverley can bring to United ranks.

And while he will need more game time to rediscover his sharpness, Ferdinand knows what an asset he could be.

"Tom's got a lot of energy," the 33-year-old said.

"He is a good passer of the ball and an all-round player. He is the sort of guy who's going to be beneficial to the team, so it's good to see him back."