Ferguson welcomes Rio return

The United defender had been out of action for over two months with
a calf injury when he made a seamless return in the first leg of
the Champions League quarter-final win over Chelsea. Three weeks
and three games later, Ferdinand looks as if he has never been away
and tonight in Gelsenkirchen will be one of the United men aiming
to keep legendary Spain striker Raul quiet. If he can manage it,
Ferdinand will have taken the Red Devils a long way towards
reaching their third final in four seasons. Ferguson believes the
omens are good. “Rio’s ability showed itself in the first leg
against Chelsea,” he said. “He was absolutely immense. “That
experience and ability is vital in the situation we are in at the
moment. He is fresh and ready to play and that is a big step
forward for us.” Ferdinand will partner skipper Nemanja Vidic at
the heart of United’s defence. Elsewhere, the make-up of Ferguson’s
team is rather harder to predict. Park Ji-sung, for instance, is
virtually certain to start but could occupy a spot in a three-man
central midfield or on either of the flanks. Similarly Wayne Rooney
might be pushed out wide, if Ferguson selects in-form Javier
Hernandez, could be selected as a lone striker, as he was against
Bayern 12 months ago, or even in midfield, where he has been pretty
effective in the last couple of games. It is a fair bet he will
have a better time of it that he did on his last visit to
Gelsenkirchen though, made infamous by the Cristiano Ronaldo wink
that accompanied Rooney’s red card for stamping on Ricardo Carvalho
as England bowed out of the World Cup to Portugal in 2006. “You
have to put bad moments behind you. That is normal for any
footballer,” said Ferguson, who claimed not to be aware such an
important moment for his club took place in the ground where he was
giving his thoughts. “But good players create their own platforms
in the sense of the importance of their performance. “Wayne, more
than anyone, realises that performances are the thing that he will
always be judged on. “There is an expectation on the boy. He has
stepped up to the mark for that – and proved himself entirely.
No-one else.”