Ferdinand likely, Tevez doubtful for final

MANCHESTER: Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand will be fit for the Champions League Final meeting with Barcelona, according to manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

The England centre-half was absent from the crucial Premier League victories over Manchester City and Wigan this week and Ferguson was resigned to being without him for the possible title-clincher against Arsenal on Saturday.

But Ferguson hopes that Ferdinand will have recovered from a calf injury sufficiently to take his place in the concluding league meeting of the season against Hull and fully expects him to be available for the trip to Rome on May 27, which will see United attempt to defend their Champions' League crown.

"I'm sure he'll be available for the final but it's one of these calf niggles that usually take 10 days to two weeks," the United boss said Friday.

"But I'm hopeful he'll be fit for next Sunday's game against Hull, which he should be really, and that would be good news for us.

"We're giving him his treatment for these kind of injuries and he's come along but he's not available for tomorrow (Saturday) but hopefully he'll be ready for next Sunday.

"He doesn't train, he's getting treatment but he's doing his work in the gymnasium, cardio work and cycling but nothing more than that." One player whose future - and place in the Rome starting line-up - appears less certain, however, is forward Carlos Tevez, who has been the subject of intense speculation over a move away from Old Trafford.

The Argentinian striker's loan period with United comes to an end at the end of the season and a minor war of words has broken out between Tevez's agents and the United hierarchy.

Ferguson is clearly growing tired of discussing the topic and angrily claimed he would do so no more. However, the United manager did confirm that chief executive David Gill has opened formal talks over a permanent move.

"David Gill met with him on Wednesday and that's a clear fact and they discussed the avenue in which Carlos Tevez could stay at Manchester United and that's the end of that," said Ferguson.

"It's great coverage for the press talking to his agent every minute of the day but I'm not getting into it." Meanwhile, on happier matters, Ferguson is on the brink of being able to contemplate an 18th league title for his club, a mark that will equal the current record owned by United's great rivals Liverpool.

"I don't think I ever thought about that," said Ferguson when asked to reflect on his arrival at Old Trafford in 1986. "My intention was to win the first one and try to break the stranglehold Liverpool had. Arsenal helped by winning it in '89 and '91 and that changed it over because they were a strong team.

"It was my intention just to win it the once and you don't think about how that opens the door for you in the sense you see now but that was the big challenge, to win it the once.

"We were 10 titles behind and it's a long way to go when you think that way. Having been involved in the Champions League so many times, we should have done better on some occasions and sometimes we've been in semi-finals and lost when we should have won, or been disappointing, but the urge and maturity we've shown in Europe this year and last year is very good and hopefully that will get us another trophy."