Rio not risked for Benfica trip

Ferdinand was not in the 19-man squad that flew to Portugal on
Tuesday morning, meaning United were without their first-choice
central defensive pairing as Nemanja Vidic is currently missing
with a calf problem. There was no place either for Federico Macheda
or Mame Biram Diouf, who scored twice for the reserves in their win
over Fulham on Monday night, but Jonny Evans and Patrice Evra
shrugged off hip and knee knocks picked up at Bolton on Saturday.
It is not thought Ferdinand has suffered a fresh injury. However,
after making his first appearance in a month during the 5-0 romp at
The Reebok, and with Chelsea due at Old Trafford on Sunday, Sir
Alex Ferguson is not wanting to take any chances with the
32-year-old, whose fitness record has been patchy over the past few
years. With Ferdinand out, it is likely to mean a move into central
defence for Phil Jones, outstanding at full-back on Saturday, who
would be making his debut in the competition. Michael Owen, fresh
from watching his horse Brown Panther finish second in the St
Leger, was also named, although if changes are made to Ferguson’s
attacking line-up, last season’s joint Golden Boot winner, Dimitar
Berbatov, would appear to have more of a claim. Ferguson has
suggested he will rely on experience, which could be good news for
Darren Fletcher, Park Ji-sung and Ryan Giggs, who have been reduced
to peripheral roles so far this term. The United boss must also
decide whether to hand Anders Lindegaard his competitive debut, or
stick with David de Gea, who has been steadily improving after a
shaky start to his Red Devils career. United (from): De Gea,
Lindegaard; Evans, Evra, Fabio, Jones, Smalling; Anderson, Carrick,
Fletcher, Giggs, Nani, Park, Valencia, Young; Berbatov, Hernandez,
Owen, Rooney.