Neville: In Fergie we trust

BY foxsports • April 1, 2010

Gary Neville continues to trust Sir Alex Ferguson to get his Manchester United juggling act exactly right.

Ferguson was already planning changes to the side that faced Bayern Munich on Tuesday, even before Wayne Rooney suffered the 'minor ankle ligament' injury that will keep him out of Saturday's crunch encounter with Chelsea.

Now the task is even more delicate, with record signing Dimitar Berbatov almost certain to take Rooney's place and both Ryan Giggs and Antonio Valencia pressing for inclusion after missing out at the Allianz Arena.

But Neville has been around long enough to know Ferguson will not allow his mind to get clouded by any external factors, including the state of Rooney's health.

"The manager will be clever in the way he uses the squad," said Neville.

"He always has been brave at times. I don't think there will be six or seven changes per match but the manager will always freshen things up."

The one certainty is that Rooney will not be involved.

However, with United remaining tight-lipped about the amount of time their star man will be sidelined for, the guessing game is on about a likely comeback date.

Conventional wisdom has it that ligament injuries generally mean a two-to-four week recovery period.

Chelsea defender Ricardo Carvalho is currently out for four weeks after suffering ankle ligament damage at Portsmouth recently, which if the same proved to be the case for Rooney would rule him out of any Champions League semi-final United managed to reach.

Two weeks would make him available to face Lyon or Bordeaux, should the Red Devils overturn their first-leg deficit against Bayern, and also the Manchester derby at Eastlands on April 17.

It is the word 'minor' that raises the potential for an even swifter comeback and there is little doubt Ferguson would have the 34-goal striker on the bench for next week's decider with Bayern if there was any chance of him making a meaningful contribution.

Even talking in these terms will be a relief for Fabio Capello, who must have feared the worst when he saw Rooney lying on the pitch in obvious pain as Ivica Olic gave Bayern their win on Tuesday night.

It now seems Rooney's participation, not just in the World Cup, but also the build-up, is not being threatened, which Capello will be delighted about even if Ferguson's priority is far more immediate.

With Rooney sidelined, United must successfully navigate a path through the Chelsea game to try and ensure they are still contending for honours when Rooney does return.

The most obvious solution for Ferguson will be to place his trust in Berbatov, given Michael Owen and Danny Welbeck are already out for the season.

Indeed, Ferguson will probably be wrapping Berbatov up in cotton wool as his only other available strikers at youngsters Federico Macheda and Mame Biram Diouf.

Ryan Giggs has played up front before, whilst Nani, Antonio Valencia and Park Ji-sung can all provide attacking support to the £30.75million forward.

Ferguson needs to get his team selection right because while it would be easy to play down the significance of one match, given there are five more to come, Neville realises the outcome could have a major bearing on who ultimately finishes top.

"Saturday is a crucial match, there is no getting away from it," he said.

"I am sure it is going to play a big part in who wins the title this season."


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