Ferdinand has until 6pm on Wednesday to answer the charge following a clash with Hull City striker Craig Fagan on Saturday in the England defender's first game back after a three-month absence.
FA charge: United defender Rio Ferdinand
If, as seems likely, Ferdinand admits the charge, he will be given an automatic three-game ban and miss tonight's clash with City at Old Trafford as well as the Premier League matches against Arsenal and Portsmouth.
His absence in tonight's Manchester derby could mean a recall forGary Neville and a potential confrontation with Carlos Tevez just daysafter their bust-up in City's 2-1 first-leg victory.
If Ferdinand contests the charge, however, he will face adisciplinary commission tomorrow and could be hit with a four-gamesuspension were he to be found guilty and the panel decide he hasattempted to abuse the process.
The loss of Ferdinand so soon after his return to action would be amajor blow to United as they attempt to beat their local rivals to aplace at Wembley, and United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is said to befurious at the FA's timing.
Neville's presence would stoke up the excitement around the gamebut there are fears it could boil over into violence between the fans.
Fiery relationship: Gary Neville could line up against Carlos Tevez at Old Trafford
With City taking 9,000 to Old Trafford, Greater Manchester Policewill launch the same scale of operation they did for the visit of LeedsUnited in the FA Cup earlier this month. Police have joined the FA inurging both clubs to show restraint but United boss Sir Alex Fergusoninsisted he had no concerns over his own players.
He said: 'Their behaviour has always been perfect, they play withinthe rules of the game. We've never had any issues with big games. Lookat the record.'
City boss Roberto Mancini confirmed he has spoken to his team over their conduct but had not singled out Tevez.
He said: 'They (Tevez and Neville) played together for two years andI don't think there is a problem with Carlos and other players.'
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