WES Brown knows his recent hamstring injury came at the worst possible time for Manchester United. Brown's absence from the pre-Christmas trip to Fulham was one of the reasons United went into the game with only one recognised defender in Patrice Evra. A subsequent three-goal hammering by Roy Hodgson's side created a backdrop of uncertainty, which has only been made worse by Sunday's FA Cup defeat at the hands of League One club Leeds. The abysmal weather conditions that have caused tomorrow's Carling Cup semi-final at Manchester City to be postponed have either prevented an immediate response or the situation getting far worse, depending on how it would have unfolded. But Brown accepts his own fitness problems have not helped. "I got injured at completely the wrong moment," he said. "There were no defenders going into Fulham, just Patrice on his own, which was a bit disappointing to say the least. "Maybe I could have played but I felt my hamstring a little bit and the best thing to do was to leave it. "If I had played I could have made it a lot worse and been out for even longer." Decision Brown probably took the wisest decision given he was able to play in the subsequent victories over Hull and Wigan and stepped in at short notice when Nemanja Vidic was struck down by a nerve pain in his leg during the warm-up on Sunday. The extra recovery time should mean Vidic is available for Saturday's trip to Birmingham, with Jonny Evans also in contention after coming through an albeit pretty miserable return to duty at the weekend. Rio Ferdinand is not far away from a comeback either after spending three months on the sidelines nursing a back complaint. "Soon we will have everyone back, so it is looking a lot more positive on the injury front, which is good news for the team," said Brown. Whether he can hold onto his place remains to be seen. England boss Fabio Capello has identified the 29-year-old as one of his back-up defenders for next summer's World Cup. Yet Brown knows he will only hang onto that place if he gets plenty of games for United, something he cannot take for granted after featuring only 13 times last term, when he was affected by a variety of different problems. "It was a disappointing for me," he said. "This season I have got back in because of injuries and I have done okay. "We want everyone back but hopefully I can keep doing well." Brown is likely to find his path blocked by Vidic at some stage, despite fresh rumours about his desire to quit England for Spain. Vidic speculation Although Vidic has always publicly stated his wish to remain at United, speculation to the contrary has been frequent. Real Madrid are the latest club to be linked with the Serbian, with the suggestion the Spanish giants might want to do a deal this month, even though Vidic would be ineligible for the Champions League. However, Vidic's agent Paolo Fabbri has tried to play down such talk. "I am quite surprised by all these rumours, the situation is under control and is not unusual," Fabbri told ESPN Soccernet. "As far as I know, the player is not negotiating with any other club. "Regarding the mood of the player, I think it is standard. I have not spoken to him since the last defeat but, as far as I know, there is no problem." Meanwhile, with the City game off and first-team training cancelled due to the exceptionally heavy snowfalls, plenty of attention has been paid to the fact Mike Phelan is apparently among the front-runners to replace Owen Coyle at Burnley. It is an obvious link given Phelan comes from the area and began his career with the Clarets before joining Norwich and, from there, United. There are also plenty of examples of United assistant-managers moving into management, notably Steve McClaren, Carlos Queiroz and Brian Kidd. Yet the latter example may be the most striking to Phelan given, like him, Kidd had never indicated a desire to branch out as a number one and ultimately failed miserably when he did quit for Blackburn. What do you think? Have your say.