United call Ferdinand home for treatment

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The Independent Football

Rio Ferdinand will fly home after England's opening World Cup match against the United States on Saturday at the request of Manchester United, who want the defender to begin a rehabilitation program on the knee injury that has ruled him out the tournament in South Africa.

Ferdinand had been told by Fabio Capello that he would be welcome to stay at the squad's Royal Bafokeng training camp for the entire tournament but United's medical department have told him to come back so they can assess his injury. The club have agreed that he will be able to return to South Africa later in the tournament if his rehabilitation allows it.

Yesterday, speaking for the first time about his injury, Ferdinand described how the injury was a "freak" occurrence that took place when he challenged for the ball with Emile Heskey on Friday. "It was a complete freak accident," Ferdinand said.

"The ball came in from one of the lads to Emile [Heskey], I went in to tackle him from behind. He didn't actually see me coming and we were both off-balance and Emile's weight just went down on my knee. It was no fault of his.

"It is disappointing but I've kind of come to terms with it now. The first night was a pretty long night, going over what could have been, the emotions at not being able to play and represent your country in the World Cup. But after that I think I kind of just got up and you just think to yourself that you have to get on with it.

"There's a lot more people worse off than I am. I'm not dying and I'm not never going to be able to play football again, so hopefully I'll be able to come back and do some good rehab and I'll be fit and that's what I'll concentrate on now, doing some good rehab.

"I'll be honest with you, I was in hospital waiting for my scan and I kind of knew I wasn't going to be able to play in the World Cup even then. I was just waiting to get it confirmed. A guy was wheeled in almost half-dead after a car accident so I got a good sense of perspective there straight away really. Things like that, so you look at that and think, 'Well I'll be able to play football again', so it's not all doom and gloom."