Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand to banish World Cup fears with new training regime
The Manchester United defender, who has assumed the England captaincy following Fabio Capello's decision to strip John Terry of the armband last month, is due to face Fulham at Old Trafford on Sunday and rack up a third consecutive appearance for United for only the second time this season. Ferdinand's back complaint forced him to miss 19 competitive fixtures for United during his three months on the sidelines and his slow recovery had prompted concerns over his ability to overcome the injury fully. Related ArticlesMan Utd v Fulham: previewOdds are off ZamoraGiggs ready for title run-inRed Knights hope to recruit David BeckhamRooney comes face-to-face with World CupSport on televisionA lumbar injection in December helped accelerate Ferdinand's recovery, however, and the 31 year-old believes he has now emerged from his injury problems after changing his training programme to include lengthier rest periods, conditioning work and tailored exercises aimed at avoiding a repeat of his back worries. Ferdinand said: "I have had to adapt my training regime. That's obvious, but it is what I expected. "I knew I would have to adapt. I would have had to do that anyway because, once you get to 30 years old, you have to adapt your training. "I don't think negatively [about the injury]. I just think about staying positive and staying on the pitch and that is what I aim to do. "It is still taking time, but the more games you play, the better you feel and I am in that category." Ferdinand's return from injury in January was immediately followed by a four-game suspension for violent conduct. He then suffered a setback when a recurrence of the back problem forced him to miss two United games, including the Carling Cup final, and England's friendly against Egypt last week. But United manager Sir Alex Ferguson insists that the former Leeds centre-half is over the worst and making impressive progress. Ferguson said: "Rio is training well at the moment. He has actually not missed many training sessions since he first came back [in January]. "He missed a couple of games, but it was only a twinge and he panicked a little bit, as we all did, thinking, 'Oh, here we go again.' But he's fine and he is looking good. "It's a great boost having Rio and Nemanja Vidic back. When I see the two of them together there is a sense of security that we have been fighting to get all season." Ferguson has raised the prospect of club captain Gary Neville being offered a new contract this summer following his impressive performance in the 4-0 victory against AC Milan in midweek. He said: "We don't play Gary every week because of the nature of his body, but on Wednesday against Milan, he was outstanding. "He showed incredible drive for a 35 year-old. Every time the ball went forward, Gary was up in support. I think he is a great example and I can certainly see him playing next season." Ferguson has insisted that Owen Hargreaves will return to action, 18 months after his last competitive appearance for United, with an outing in the reserves against Burnley next Thursday. Hargreaves, who underwent double knee surgery over a year ago, was withdrawn from the squad for his planned comeback against Manchester City reserves earlier this week. Ferguson said: "Owen went to see a specialist, which is why he didn't play for the reserves. But he will play in the next game."
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