Vidic boost enough for Ferguson

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is ready to welcome Nemanja Vidic back to his starting line-up and would be satisfied if the Serbian was the only man available to ease his injury-ravaged defence.

In total, Ferguson was without 14 senior men for last night's Champions League encounter with Wolfsburg, eight of them defenders.

Yet the Red Devils made light of the handicap, beating the German champions 3-1 at the Volkswagen Arena thanks to Michael Owen's hat-trick.

Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher joined Patrice Evra in an unrecognisable three-man defence and the midfielders seem set to remain in post as Wes Brown's hamstring injury is not responding to treatment.

Yet Ferguson is unconcerned about the on-going problems, even though high-flying Aston Villa visit Old Trafford on Saturday.

"I expect Vidic to be fit and if he is available we would have him and Michael Carrick, plus Darren Fletcher and Patrice Evra," he said. "I would be happy enough with that."

Ferguson also expects to have Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov available to face Martin O'Neill's men, who have once again moved to the fringes of a top-four place.

That might mean a quick relegation back to the substitutes' bench for Owen, who marked a rare start by converting his first Champions League treble since 2003.

Although it might have come too late to allow him to challenge for a spot in Fabio Capello's World Cup squad, it was proof he still retains his old finisher's instinct, with Ferguson admitting Owen has a huge part to play this term.

"It was a fantastic performance. Michael's finishing and positional play were superb," said the United boss.

"I made the point some weeks ago that his training performances have improved steadily. I have had no worries about him.

"Obviously in some games recently we have only played with one striker and Wayne Rooney has been it. Here we used a different system.

"The evidence of a player is always on the football field and Michael has given us that this evening. He has proved his worth and I am delighted with his performance."

It is hard to pick a United player who did not exceed expectations and the fact it was only their third away win in 10 attempts against German opposition indicates just what a milestone it was.

Victory ensures United will face a runner-up in the knock-out phase next spring. But while potential opponents already include AC Milan and Bayern Munich, playing the decisive second leg at Old Trafford should help.

It also means United avoided getting embroiled in what is sure to be a prolonged squabble over the failed drugs tests of two CSKA Moscow players, Alexei Berezutsky and Sergei Ignashevich, following their 3-3 draw with the Red Devils last month.

Although the defensive duo were suspended as CSKA beat Besiktas in Istanbul last night, it is the Russian side who should advance ahead of Wolfsburg.

However, UEFA regulations provide the power for expulsion and a disciplinary hearing is set for December 17 - the day before the last 16 draw - to determine the outcome, with Wolfsburg coach Armin Veh offering a very astute observation.

"This mess will take weeks to sort out," he said.

"It is not a matter for me to comment on but for Uefa and we can only hope they will take the right decision."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
John Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
business
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Sport
Germany's Andre Greipel crosses the finish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 194 kilometers (120.5 miles) with start in Arras and finish in Reims, France
tour de franceGerman champion achieves sixth Tour stage win in Reims
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face
books
Arts and Entertainment
filmSir Ian McKellen will play retired detective in new film
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil