Ferdinand's fitness boost puts United at full strength

Captain confident he will play as Henry and Iniesta are set to start for Barcelona

Sam Wallace,Pete Jenson
Sunday 23 October 2011 08:22

Rio Ferdinand is still confident he will play in tomorrow's Champions League final despite missing Manchester United's final Premier League game against Hull City on Sunday. The defender was picked by Fabio Capello for the England World Cup qualifiers next month on the understanding that he would be fit.

The United defender is understood to have reacted well to the treatment on his calf injury to the extent that he has assured the Capello camp that he will be able to play against Kazakhstan and Andorra next month.

It means that United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, whose squad arrived in Rome yesterday, will have virtually a full complement of players from which to choose tomorrow night, Darren Fletcher and Owen Hargreaves excepted.

Equally, Barcelona believe that their key injured players should be fit to play in the game. Both Thierry Henry and Andres Iniesta returned to full training with their team-mates yesterday and both are now expected to start in Rome. The two players trained separately from the rest of the squad last night at the start of their session before joining in with full training later on.

The Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez said: "They both looked very good and very comfortable right from the start. The vibes are good for them and for us. We now have them back with us and if nothing strange happens they will play the final. They are two very important players for us and having them 100 per cent is a huge boost."

Switzerland's Massimo Busacca will referee the game, it was announced yesterday. The governing body Uefa is desperately hoping for a sound performance from the 40-year-old after the dreadful game that Tom Henning Ovrebo had in the semi-final second leg between Chelsea and Barcelona at Stamford Bridge.

Busacca refereed United and Barcelona in their Champions League semi-final last year and also took charge of the 2007 Uefa Cup final between Seville and Espanyol.

Authorities in Rome have taken the step of banning the sale of alcohol in the areas around the stadium in the build-up to tomorrow's final and its aftermath. Alcohol in glass containers will not be sold around the stadium and takeaway alcohol will also be prohibited in the same areas. The authorities expect 5,000 United fans to travel without tickets.

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