Have the England captain’s back problems resurfaced?
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Rio Ferdinand was the major absentee from the 20-man Manchester United party which headed off to Turkey on Monday morning for the Champions League encounter with Bursaspor.
No immediate reason was given for Ferdinand’s absence although it seems highly likely Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision was purely precautionary.
Ferdinand has long-standing back problems and the four-hour flight is hardly conducive to easing his discomfort.
With crucial Premier League matches against Wolves and at Manchester City and Aston Villa to follow in the next fortnight, Ferdinand has almost certainly been excused to give him the best possible chance of featuring in those fixtures. (Press Association)
While it is widely reported that it is Rio Ferdinand’s back problems affecting his ability to travel to Turkey, the player himself said on Twitter, “Just finished training this morning,good hard running session done. Reports that I’m not travelling to Turkey coz it will affect my back are once again WRONG, where do they get this rubbish from??!”
However, there is no doubt that his absence from the Manchester United squad is a big blow – particularly with traditional backup option Jonny Evans also out.
Turkey is a notoriously difficult place for the away team to play in Europe, but this could be the chance for Chris Smalling to come to the fore.
Smalling was excellent against Wolverhampton Wanderers in the last round of the Carling Cup, but a UEFA Champions League tie at the Bursa Ataturk Stadium is a different prospect to Wolves at home in the Carling Cup…