Rio return no slight on Smalling

BY foxsports • April 8, 2011

Ferdinand had been missing for nine weeks with a calf injury sustained in the warm-up to United's shock Premier League defeat at Wolves. Yet Ferguson still had no hesitation in pitching the deposed England skipper straight into the white-hot atmosphere of a Champions League quarter-final. It was harsh luck on Smalling, whose performances in Ferdinand's absence had shown a maturity that belied his 20 years. But Ferdinand has the class and experience to make a difference. And in silencing Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres, he did exactly that. "It was a terrible for me to explain to Chris Smalling that he wasn't playing given the way he has performed for us this season," said Ferguson. "He understood. He is part of the squad and he won't be forgotten. "But it's Rio's experience. He has such composure. He talks to players. When Antonio Valencia went to full-back he was talking all the time. He was phenomenal." Ferguson was not surprised by Ferdinand's contribution. "I was waiting for the moment where he might tire a little bit but there was no sign of it," he said. "He had done 10 days' physical work before he started football training. "People might think it was a gamble. My only gamble was if he wasn't really up for it. Whether we had to talk him into it. "That wasn't the case. He came to me. He said I am ready. It was great news." Ferguson must now decide whether to give Ferdinand a second start in four days against Fulham on Saturday and risk a reaction ahead of Tuesday's second leg with Carlo Ancelotti's men. With the Manchester derby FA Cup semi-final to follow that, it is a crucial time for United, and their veteran manager realises he must get major decisions correct. "Picking the right team is always an issue when you have a run of important games," he said. "You are dependent on your squad, not on your team. "Yes, there will be changes of course. We picked a team for obvious reasons on Tuesday but it could be a different team next Tuesday. "That is the great value of having a good squad. "But a lot of things help us tomorrow. "The fans were fantastic on Tuesday and they will be again. They know the importance of being united at this time. "That will be a really good thing for us."

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