Ferguson puts faith in Hargreaves
Sir Alex Ferguson is so confident of Owen Hargreaves making an impact this season that the injury-prone midfielder has made the cut to be included in Manchester United's 25-man UEFA Champions League squad. The England international missed almost all of last season with a knee injury, but his versatility has persuaded the Red Devils manager to give him the nod over Zoran Tosic and Ritchie De Laet.
"The difficulty was around what we should do with Owen Hargreaves, whether or not to put him or Zoran in the squad," explained Ferguson. "It was Owen or Zoran or Ritchie de Laet. It was a dilemma.
"But we came down on the side of Hargreaves because having taken the medical advice we think he will be available for the last three Champions League games. We came down on the side of Hargreaves because, having taken the medical advice, we think he'll be available for the last three Champions League group-stage games.
"He's a versatile player who can perform in so many positions, so he could be a very important player for us at that time of the season. That was the reason. It is disappointing for Zoran but there is nothing we can do about it. There have been others left out."
Fergie backs Spurs' challenge
United play Tottenham Hotspur in the evening Premier League kick-off today, with Ferguson predicting Harry Redknapp's side could finally break the stranglehold of the 'big four'. "They have a realistic chance of breaking into the top four," said the Scot.
"They and Man City have had good starts and those two are ahead of the rest of them at the moment. Harry bought Wilson Palacios from Wigan and I thought that was a good signing to bring that steel into midfield. They have really started well and there's a good degree of experience in the squad."
Rio Ferdinand could be in contention for his first competitive match of the season. He has been back in training this week after a thigh injury. Gary Neville could also figure too after proving his fitness in a reserve match last week.
Antonio Valencia may start on the bench as the Ecuador winger has had a long journey back from international duty in Bolivia, where he scored in a 3-1 win to give his country a good chance of qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.
"Valencia was playing in Bolivia so he'll probably arrive back in November!" said Ferguson. "Just think of a player playing a game in Bolivia on a Thursday morning and expected to be playing at Tottenham on a Saturday, but that's what happens now."
John O'Shea looks certain to be missing tomorrow after suffering a calf injury on duty with the Republic of Ireland, while goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar's broken thumb will keep him out for another month.