Rio Ferdinand insists there is "no question" that he will be fit for next year's FIFA World Cup™ despite fears over his long-term fitness.
The Manchester United centre half has not played since the Red Devils' 2-0 loss at Liverpool in October thanks to a calf injury, which is linked to a previous back problem. United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has denied that the defender's injury is long-term and believes he will soon be back in action for the defending Premier League champions.
England manager Fabio Capello has insisted that his 23-man FIFA World Cup squad will not include anyone who is not fully fit, raising doubts about the 31-year-old's prospects of going to South Africa. Ferdinand has played only 12 internationals since Capello took over two years ago, but the former West Ham defender insists he will be ready to answer the Italian's call when he names his squad next summer.
"I'm confident I'll be fit. There's no question I'll be ready for next summer," Ferdinand told Press Association Sport. Ferdinand has been seeing a specialist in London to try and speed up his recovery. No timescale has been set for his return to action but he is confident he will be back soon.
"It's the worst thing for a player to be injured and to be just watching your team, so I've been working hard in the gym to get fit," said Ferdinand. The treatment on my injury is going well. It's been quite slowly slowly but we're getting there. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It's been a tough and long layoff for me because I have never been injured before."
United's defence has been ravaged by injury recently with Wes Brown, Jonny Evans, John O'Shea and Gary Neville all joining Ferdinand on the sidelines. As a result Ferguson has had to field a makeshift back four on a number of occasions, the most obvious being for United's 3-1 Champions League win over Wolfsburg when midfielders Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick played in defence.
Despite their injury problems, United have conceded only three league goals since Ferdinand's last appearance. He believes the performance of those filling in for him shows the strength and determination of the Manchester United squad. "Michael Carrick's done a great job filling in at centre half, so has Darren Fletcher at right back so I'm glad for them. That's what Manchester United is all about, it's all about the team effort," Ferdinand said.
Ferdinand was speaking at the launch of his 'Live the Dream' charity foundation in London last night. "The foundations is a vehicle to reach out to young people and provide them with the resources they need to unlock their potential. The 'Live the Dream' Foundation will help to change lives," he said.