SAF: Jones & Evans are the future
Fri, 17 May 2013 13:10:00
Defender Benoit Assou-Ekotto has recovered from a knee injury and is available for Tottenham's crunch clash against Sunderland at White Hart Lane on Sunday.
The Cameroon international sat out last weekend's win at Stoke, but has trained with the team this week and could come back into his usual left-back position.
Long-term absentees Sandro (knee), Younes Kaboul (thigh) and William Gallas (calf) are unavailable.
Sunderland boss Paolo Di Canio will need to plug the hole left by loan signing Danny Rose.
The England Under-21 international left-back is ineligible to play against his parent club, to which he returned after last weekend's 1-1 draw with Southampton, and midfielder Jack Colback seems the most likely man to fill in.
Striker Stephane Sessegnon completes his three-match ban while midfielder Craig Gardner sits out the second game of his enforced lay-off, although frontman Connor Wickham is available after returning as a substitute against the Saints following a month on the sidelines with a calf injury.
Ferguson also promised goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard he would make sure he reached the 10 Premier League appearances which at the time the Scot thought were required to qualify for a title winners' medal.
The manager has since learned that he would have been able to give Lindegaard a medal anyway, but nevertheless he intends to stand by his pledge to get the Dane into double figures at West Brom on Sunday.
"I stand by that," he said.
"Anders will be in goal. I will play one or two younger players, and I want to play Jonny Evans and Phil Jones at centre-half because they are the future.
"Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand will just have to make do with a place on the bench."
Ferguson was presented with a cake by the media prior to today's press conference in honour of the 26 years he has spent at Old Trafford.
"It's fully deserved," he joked.
"There have been some times when I have not agreed with what people have written and when you write positive things I tend to dismiss them.
"But I have never held a grudge. It is not my style."
Ferguson was in an emotional but cheery mood as he looked forward to his 1500th and final game as United manager before he stands down in favour of David Moyes in the summer.
"It has been amazing," he said.
"Sunday (the home game against Swansea) was amazing and the parade on Monday was unbelievable.
"I thought the scenes after the treble in 1999 couldn't be beaten but I think Monday probably did."
Ferguson confirmed he has a League Managers' Association meeting on Monday and horse racing commitments on Tuesday and Wednesday, ensuring the start of his retirement will be a busy one.
"It is going to be a different life," he said.
"I have had 40 years as a manager."
"I am driven to take on challenges in some other things right away.
"I have got the League Managers' meeting on Monday. I am going to Newmarket for two days on Tuesday and Wednesday. I have The Derby on June 1 and I am going on holiday on June 4 for a month.
"Then I have the operation, the season starts, we are off and we are all right."
After spending so long in the highest profile job in English football, Ferguson will not be stepping away completely.
His opinions on all matters will still be eagerly sought after and the legendary drive and determination are unlikely to disappear overnight.
And that includes a jokey threat to Sir Michael Stoute, who trains Derby contender Telescope, which Ferguson part owns.
"It has had an infection but it is okay now," said Ferguson.
"It had better be fit or Stoute is in trouble."