United stars set to miss season opener
Sir Alex Ferguson admits the majority of Manchester United's 2010 FIFA World Cup™ stars are unlikely to feature in the club's Premier League opener against Newcastle next month.
England duo Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick, France and Korea Republic captains Patrice Evra and Park Ji-Sung, Serbia defender Nemanja Vidic and new signing Javier Hernandez of Mexico were United's six representatives in South Africa.
Rio Ferdinand is hopeful of being fit for the start of the season after injury prevented him captaining England, while Nani was in the squad which flew out for a pre-season tour of America after being ruled out of Portugal's campaign. Owen Hargreaves' long-term knee troubles meant he never entered Fabio Capello's thoughts and a fresh setback will see him miss the resumption.
With regards to those who did play, though, Ferguson will bide his time over assessing them ahead of the Magpies test. The Red Devils jetted off without any of the sextet for their pre-season tour of America, although Hernandez will link up with the squad on 27 July in time to face his former club Chivas three days later.
After a training camp in Chicago, United will take on Celtic, Philadelphia Union, Kansas City Wizards and the MLS All-Stars before the Chivas clash and the Community Shield against double-winners Chelsea. And Ferguson told Sky Sports News: "Even the (Community) Shield does not come onto the agenda as a need-to-win game, it's being used as the final part of preparation. That's on the 8th of August, then there are internationals during that week, and we have the first game the following Monday against Newcastle.
"In that time, after we've surveyed the fitness of the ones who've been at the World Cup because they don't come back until the 28th of July, we'll really know if any of them or all of them should play in the opening game. I have the feeling we'll probably not play them all but maybe one or two will play in it."