Successful return for fit-again Rio

United reserve team boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer declared himself

satisfied with Ferdinand’s fitness, with the game marking the

England skipper’s first match action since he suffered a major knee

ligament injury in a freak collision with Emile Heskey on the first

day of World Cup training with England in South Africa. The injury

wrecked the 31-year-old’s hopes of captaining his country on the

greatest stage and also resulted in him missing the opening three

games of United’s Premier League challenge, plus the start of

England’s Euro 2012 qualifying campaign. However, it seems

Ferdinand is now on track to face Everton at Goodison Park on

September 11 after a typically stylish performance in the low-key

arena of Bower Fold in Stalybridge. “Rio is always the same

player,” said Solskjaer. “It is a while since he has played but he

was still calm. “He has get through an important 45 minutes,

straight after two very hard training sessions yesterday and the

day before so we are delighted with him.” Solskjaer moved quickly

to dispel any fears that Ferdinand’s premature departure was down

to a recurrence of the injury. For a player who has struggled badly

for fitness over the past two years, during which he has missed 15

England games alone, Ferdinand is desperate for an injury-free run.

And Solskjaer confirmed he is raring to go. “There was no problem

whatsoever,” he said. “It was always planned that he would play 45

minutes. I am not sure he needs any more games. Rio is a naturally

fit lad. “Today was about distances and getting tighter to the

ball. Now he is available for selection again.” Goalless when

Ferdinand ended his contribution, United eventually emerged

triumphant in a Manchester Senior Cup tie watched by Paul Scholes

when Federico Macheda lashed home a superb left-footed strike in

the latter stages to seal a 2-1 win. Aside from the result and

Ferdinand’s return, Sir Alex Ferguson will doubtless be interested

to learn of a full 90 minutes for Anderson, who is on his way back

from a cruciate operation.