Ferdinand boosted by pedal power
RIO Ferdinand should be ready to help United try to regain their Champions League title when the group stages kick-off next month. The England star has targeted the Premier League fixture at Spurs on September 12 for his comeback from a thigh injury. Three days later, the Reds are due to start their quest for more European glory. "I hope to be back to full fitness in a couple of weeks," said Ferdinand. "I've been working really hard with the physios - they've been running me into the ground doing bike rides all over Cheshire!" "Hopefully, I'll be fit and ready to go after the international games." Nightmare Ferdinand, who endured a nightmare in his last England appearance against Holland in Amsterdam, hasn't played for United since the Charity Shield defeat to Chelsea. "I had never been injured before last season," he said of the back and ankle ailments that dogged him last term. "I still played 45 games but it was the first time I have had time off and I found it really frustrating." Ferdinand cannot see any way he can emulate Paolo Maldini by extending his career beyond his 40th birthday. Maldini finally called time on his stellar career in the summer at the tender age of 41. While Ferdinand acknowledges the Italian legend's immense talent, he does not think the sheer pace of top-flight football in England makes it possible for anyone to match Maldini in the Premier League. "You could not play to 41 in the Premier League. Games are a lot slower in Italy and they don't play as many," he said. "When anyone comes here from another country they always say they can't believe how fast it is. It takes a couple of years off your career." Ferdinand will again be a spectator tomorrow when United entertain Arsenal in an evening kick-off. And he believes the current squad can cope without talisman Cristiano Ronaldo. "If we go into the season with what we have now, I would sit very comfortably in our changing room," said Ferdinand. "We have been successful in the last few years and we are not a one-man team." Arsene Wenger feels his young Arsenal side will come to United full of confidence after sweeping past Celtic and into the draw for the group stage of the Champions League. Arsenal have now won all of their four matches so far. "I am happy to go to Old Trafford because it is the first big, big test," said Wenger. "You want always to have a high level of confidence when you go to Old Trafford, we have that at the moment. "We are now in the top, top league in Europe, with all the big names. Our team against Celtic had an average age of 23.9 years. "That means, if we can get out of the group stage, then in six months we can be even stronger. "That is what we want to focus on, to continue to improve our team play, the speed of our game and show that we have made big improvements. He added: "For us it is most important to recover physically because United did not play during the week." Fortunate Wenger conceded Arsenal had been somewhat fortunate to be awarded the penalty when Eduardo went down following what looked minimal contact at best from Celtic keeper Artur Boruc. "From outside I must say it looked a penalty but, having seen it again on television, it doesn't look to be a penalty," Wenger said. "But I must still say that we were likely always to score the first goal because Eduardo had a great chance before the penalty and we always looked in control of the game." Wenger continued: "I am not sure that the keeper didn't touch him with his right knee, having seen it again. "I do not want a penalty which is not a penalty but I wouldn't say Eduardo dived."
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