Anderson will be joined by Ryan Giggs, Rio Ferdinand and Nani in the list of absentees for Sunday’s Carling Cup final against Aston Villa – but, aside from the Brazilian’s six-month lay-off with a cruciate knee problem, there’s positive news on the injury front for the Reds.
Ryan Giggs is expected back in training next week as he recovers from a fracture arm, while Rio Ferdinand, who suffered a twinge in his back – a problem that has blighted him for months – could be back in a fortnight. Nani, meanwhile, serves out the final match of his three-game ban for the red card he earned at Villa earlier this month.
Ferdinand is expected to miss the next three games – Sunday’s final, the trip to Wolverhampton Wanderers next weekend and AC Milan’s visit to Old Trafford in the Champions League last 16 second leg tie. But, hopefully, after that he will restart his revered central defensive partnership with Nemanja Vidic for the run-in.
“With Rio, we don’t think his back injury is terribly serious,” said Sir Alex. “But it was bad enough for him not to play on Tuesday. The twinge got worse as the day went on and we couldn’t take a chance on it. He’ll be out on Sunday and he won’t be fit for the England game.
“It’s a blow for us, because I was looking forward to Ferdinand and Vidic being back on Tuesday. But it wasn’t to be. You can never know with back injuries, but we don’t think it’s too serious. We think he’ll be back in two weeks. I don’t think he’ll be fit for the Milan game, but I don’t think it’ll be much longer than that.”
Over the next three days, Sir Alex’s focus will be on picking the right team to defeat Aston Villa in his 27th final as a manager. A number of young players are in contention for a place in keeping with the Reds’ youthful outlook in previous rounds. But, make no mistake, Sir Alex wants to win this final and will pick a strong team of experienced players.
“I am thinking about the younger ones to give them that smell [of success]. There are two or three that come into that category, like [Darron] Gibson, [Jonny] Evans and Rafael,” he said. “They obviously have to be considered. But it would be nice to win the cup having got to Wembley and got through those semi-final ties against Manchester City. You want to