Fergie: Evra fine for Anfield

Although Luis Suarez will be suspended for the fourth-round tie

later this month, it will mark Evra’s first return to Anfield since

he levelled racism allegations against the Liverpool front-man in

October that resulted in an eight-match ban.

Given the vitriol that came out of Liverpool in the wake of that

case, sentiment is bound to be against Evra, who has assumed the

United captaincy since Nemanja Vidic sustained his season-ending

cruciate injury.

However, Ferguson is not concerned by that.

“He’s done okay. I haven’t decided on that (whether Evra will

play) but it wouldn’t be a problem for me,” said Ferguson.

The United boss is maintaining a club stance about not talking

specifically about the Suarez case and rebuffed questions on the

subject today.

Yet he did say Evra was the automatic choice as captain given

the two most obvious alternatives, Ryan Giggs and Rio Ferdinand,

are due to age and injury, not regular members of his starting

line-up.

“Rio would have been the captain if he didn’t have that

inconsistency because of a series of injuries,” said Ferguson.

“Someone who will be playing all the time should be at the

forefront of your mind to be your captain and that was the case

with Patrice.

“He is not as voluble as Rio but he certainly influences a lot

of things and his own performance are very good.

“The players look up to him. He’s very popular with a good

personality. He’s very friendly, has humour and he is a determined

lad.”

And now he has Paul Scholes alongside him after the midfielder

made the surprising decision to come out of retirement ahead of

last weekend’s Manchester derby.

Although he was only on the pitch for half an hour, the

37-year-old made more passes than any City player managed in the

entire game, an incredible 97% of which found their target.

The question now is whether to select him from the start against

Bolton at Old Trafford on Saturday, when victory would take the Red

Devils level on points with the leaders, who do not play until

Monday night’s trip to Wigan.

“Paul has trained really hard this week and he is looking very

good,” said Ferguson.

“You can’t ignore the quality that he brings to the team.”

Indeed, rather than the negative perception some observers claim

it brings, Ferguson is convinced Scholes can have the same impact

as Henrik Larsson, whose 13 appearances during a short loan spell

in 2007 inspired United to the first of three successive league

championships.

“Henrik was an incredible professional,” said the United

boss.

“He was a breath of fresh air in terms of how he trained and how

inquisitive he was about training.

“It was a nice moment of the players to see a lad of that age

still wanting to learn.

“All of the players idolise Paul anyway and it was an easy

decision to make.”

Sadly, Ferguson cannot offer any insight into when Darren

Fletcher will return, even though he went to the Etihad Stadium as

a fan on Sunday to cheer his team-mates to victory despite being

ruled out for an indefinite period with a chronic inflammatory

bowel condition.

“He’s been coming into training for the last few days, just

getting himself out of the house really,” said Ferguson.

“It is difficult to put a time on it because it is not one we

can assess accurately.

“It is what it is and hopefully time will be the answer.”