Premier League

Hip surgery may sideline Fergie

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Sat, 04 May 2013 10:23:00

Coach Remi Garde does not believe his future at Lyon will depend on whether his side qualify for the Champions League.

Lyon are embroiled in a five-way battle for a place in next year's competition with four games remaining in the Ligue 1 season.

Garde's team entered this weekend in the final Champions League qualification place, but they could even drop outside the European positions by the time they kick-off against in-form Nancy on Sunday.

Despite being in a relegation scrap, Nancy are one of the form teams at the moment, having picked up 14 of the past 18 points on offer to edge out of the bottom three.

And with the visit of champions-elect Paris Saint-Germain looming large next weekend, there is little room for Garde to trip up if he is to provide a convincing argument to remain at Stade Gerland next season.

"In my mind, my future at OL does not depend on the last four games, even if I have goals set in my mind," he told a press conference.

"At the end of the season, it is not me who decides whether I stay."

Asked if he had in mind a points tally his team would require over the closing month, he added: "No. We will take it match by match.

"We are still holding on by our fingertips to our goal and it is up to us to stay there.

"We go to Nancy to get the points. It will not be easy against a team that does not have the same face in 2013.

"Solidarity and cohesion will be very important. The mood will be a key."

Lyon will be without their first-choice goalkeeper Remy Vercoutre after he had knee surgery on Thursday, while a groin injury is set to sideline Rachid Ghezzal. Lisandro Lopez should take his place despite a calf problem.

United have privately confirmed reports that Ferguson is booked in for surgery immediately after the club return from their three-week pre-season tour at the end of July.

That Ferguson will have his summer break and then travel to Thailand, Australia, Japan and Hong Kong before the operation suggests he is not going to be sidelined for too long.

However, United must face either Manchester City or Wigan in the Community Shield at Wembley on August 11, with their title defence due to begin the following weekend.

No timescale is being put on Ferguson's likely absence but it would require a rapid recovery from the 71-year-old in order for him to be back in the dug-out by then.

Ferguson has always said his health would dictate how long he would carry on as United manager.

He was taken ill at a function in his native Scotland almost 12 months ago, although his nosebleeds were put down to the amount of short flights he had undertaken.

Ferguson subsequently missed pre-season matches in Norway and Germany and also sat out a mid-winter break in Qatar.

Other than that though, he has remained in bullish mood and yesterday poured champagne for journalists attending his press conference at United's Carrington training ground in recognition of a 13th Premier League title.

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