Belfast Telegraph

We can overcome Valencia loss - Rio

Rio Ferdinand is confident Manchester United will cope without Antonio Valencia for the next four weeks.

Valencia was only on the field for a matter of minutes in Amsterdam on Thursday night, but pulled a hamstring as he helped create Javier Hernandez's match-clinching effort in the 2-0 Europa League win over Ajax. Although the winger was immediately replaced by Sir Alex Ferguson, the United boss confirmed afterwards that Valencia would be missing for the next four weeks.

"It's a really big blow because Antonio's been a fantastic player for us this season," he said. "But when somebody gets injured or loses form at this club the manager can always call upon another player to perform."

The period includes testing Barclays Premier League trips to Norwich and Tottenham, in addition to a Europa League last-16 clash with either Lokomotiv Moscow or Athletic Bilbao providing United progress.

As Valencia has arguably been the Red Devils' best player over the past month, the 26-year-old is going to be missed.

However, as Nani made his comeback from injury against Ajax and Ashley Young continued his search for full fitness by scoring his first goal since September, Ferdinand is confident United have the strength they need.

He added: "This is the stage of the season where we need players back and a few of the lads got some good minutes under their belts."

Amongst that group was midfielder Tom Cleverley.

Rated so highly by Ferguson after a blistering start to the season that propelled him into the England squad, Cleverley was ruled out for six weeks when he injured his foot at Bolton at the beginning of September.

Cleverley was just two games into his comeback when he suffered an ankle problem at Everton that ruled him out for over three and a half months. There were fleeting glimpses on Thursday night of the energy Cleverley can bring to United ranks.


From Belfast Telegraph