Manchester United will hope Nemanja Vidic does not suffer a recurrence of his calf problem when he makes an early return from injury for Serbia on Tuesday evening.
Returning: Nemanja Vidic is preparing to come back from injury against Estonia Photo: GETTY IMAGES
By Mark Ogden 10:30PM BST 28 Mar 2011
The United captain is set to captain Serbia against Estonia in Tallinn on Tuesday, just two weeks after suffering the calf strain that had left manager Sir Alex Ferguson concerned about the defender’s prospects of facing West Ham at Upton Park on Saturday.
Vidic had initially been omitted from Vladimir Petrovic’s squad for the Euro 2012 qualifying double-header against Northern Ireland and Estonia. But the centre-half underwent intensive treatment at United’s Carrington training ground last week before flying to Belgrade in time to watch the 2-1 victory over Northern Ireland last Friday.
Vidic trained with his Serbian team-mates on Saturday before flying to snowbound Estonia on Sunday, where Petrovic declared the 29 year-old fit to play.
Petrovic said: “Vidic is with us again and he is ready to play from the beginning. My only concern is about the condition of the pitch because it is a winter’s landscape.”
Although United confirmed on Monday that Vidic had joined up with Serbia, it is unclear as to Ferguson’s thoughts on his captain representing his country so soon after suffering an injury which forced him to miss the Champions League victory against Marseille and 1-0 league win against Bolton.
Ferguson, who will announce United’s summer tour of the United States at a press conference in New York on Tuesday, has a good relationship with Serbia coach Petrovic and struck an agreement with the former Arsenal midfielder for Vidic to miss the friendly international against Israel in Tel Aviv last month.
Serbia’s precarious position in their Euro 2012 qualifying group, where they lie third, six points adrift of group leaders Italy, has placed huge importance on the game in Estonia tonight, thereby prompting Vidic to answer his nation’s call.
But with United battling a manpower shortage in defence due to injury and suspension, any recurrence of Vidic’s calf problem would leave Ferguson struggling to field a back four at West Ham.
United are already without the suspended Jonny Evans, with Rio Ferdinand, John O’Shea and potential full-back Owen Hargreaves all injured.
Wes Brown is hopeful of beating a calf injury, while Rafael da Silva could return from a hamstring injury, but Michael Carrick is on standby to fill in at centre-half should Vidic suffer a setback.
Meanwhile, United could face David Beckham and Thierry Henry in the same game later this year after agreeing a deal to play the MLS All-Stars – a team comprising of the leading players in the MLS – at New Jersey’s Red Bull Arena in July.
United will confirm the final details of their pre-season tour of the United States on Tuesday, but plans are also understood to be in place for games in Seattle, Chicago and Washington DC.
A training camp at Niketown in Portland, plus a possible fixture in Boston, are also being considered.
Mike Dean has been appointed as referee for United’s FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City at Wembley on Apr 16.
Dean has not taken charge of a United fixture since being criticised by Ferguson for dismissing Rafael during the 0-0 draw at Tottenham in January.
United’s Premier League clash with Chelsea at Old Trafford has been put back 24 hours to May 8. The game will kick-off at 4.10pm.
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