Belfast Telegraph

Hard to stomach for Rio

Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has sparked a fitness scare ahead of the Red Devils' Premier League encounter with Bolton on Saturday by hinting he has been struck down by a stomach virus.

For obvious reasons, Sir Alex Ferguson is not normally too keen for his players to discuss any club-related business on their Twitter sites. However, Ferdinand informed his 1.8million followers he had a disturbed night's sleep and blamed a stomach problem for his discomfort.

"When your stomach is making more moves than a gymnast you know its gonna be a long night," he tweeted. "it was a long night I must say!"

Ferdinand offered no further observations on the matter and it is not known whether his place in the United side this weekend is at risk.

However, with an horrendous injury list only just starting to ease thanks to the return of Chris Smalling in last Sunday's FA Cup win over Manchester City, it would be a blow for Ferguson if his most experienced defender was unavailable.

With City not in action until Monday, United would move level on points with their neighbours if they win, although as the goal difference gap widened to 11 following their 3-0 defeat at Newcastle last week, it is impossible to believe the Old Trafford outfit could secure top spot.

Meanwhile, Ravel Morrison's short United career seems certain to come to an end this summer. The 18-year-old has long been regarded as a young player of immense promise, only for his talent to become clouded by a series of damaging off-field incidents that have landed him in trouble with the police.

Nevertheless, with his contract due to expire in the summer, it was anticipated Morrison would be offered an extension and, judging by the way he swiftly denied rumours he wore a Manchester City shirt in a kickabout with some friends, he evidently still has high regard for United.

However, it is beyond question that, after starring in last term's FA Youth Cup-winning success, Morrison has failed to make the progress many were anticipating this season.

Despite having his squad ravaged by injury, Ferguson has opted against calling on Morrison, whose only first-team appearances remain as substitute in the two Carling Cup encounters with Aldershot and Crystal Palace.

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