Manchester United centre-back Rio Ferdinand faces another two weeks on the sidelines as he struggles to shake off the calf injury that he picked up some five weeks ago.
The England captain has been absent from the United line-up since suffering the injury during the warm-up in the defeat against Wolverhampton Wanderers on February 5th, the day United lost their unbeaten record in the Premier League.
Ferdinand, 32, has been replaced in recent weeks by the highly-promising England under-21 defender Chris Smalling, but following the red card sustained by Nemanja Vidic against Chelsea on Tuesday, Sir Alex Ferguson’s side are currently light in that area, with Jonny Evans also injured with an ankle problem.
It had been hoped that Ferdinand would be fit to play some part in a 10-day spell that could define United’s season, with the league match against bitter rivals Liverpool on Sunday followed by the FA Cup quarter-final against Arsenal at Old Trafford next Saturday, and the Champions League, last-16, second leg against Marseille the following Tuesday.
However the severity of Ferdinand’s injury, and Ferguson’s unwillingness to rush back the defender, following injury struggles in the last two seasons, has all but ruled him out.
In the absence of United’s two first-choice centre-backs, Wes Brown, the experienced defender, will partner Smalling at Anfield on Sunday.
“Wes Brown will take over. He has great experience” said Sir Alex Ferguson.
Michael Carrick, the United midfielder, has penned a new three-year deal at Old Trafford. The England international’s new contract will run until June 2014.