| Manchester Uniteds Nani during a training session on the eve of the match against Marseille, in Manchester. (Reuters) |
Manchester: Manchester United winger Nani will face Olympique Marseille in the Champions League, on Tuesday, after recovering sooner than expected from a leg injury, manager Alex Ferguson said on Monday.
The Portugal international trained with the first team earlier in the day, raising the prospect of a return in time for Tuesdays last-16 second leg at Old Trafford after Ferguson had last week ruled him out.
He trained on Sunday also, he and Michael Carrick, which is a better situation than I had at the weekend, Ferguson told a news conference, referring to Saturdays FA Cup win over Arsenal, where midfield injuries forced him to field seven defenders. Both will be involved tomorrow.
Defender and captain Nemanja Vidic missed training on Monday after picking up a knock in the 2-0 FA Cup quarter final victory, but should be fit for Tuesday, when United and Marseille resume battle after a 0-0 draw in France last month.
It was unclear whether Ferguson planned to name Nani in the starting line-up, just over a week after he suffered a gashed leg after a high tackle by Liverpools Jamie Carragher, or whether fellow winger Antonio Valencia was in the running.
Valencia made his first appearance for six months on Saturday after a long recovery from a broken and dislocated ankle and put in a good performance when he came on for the second half. It was a fantastic bonus for us to get 45 minutes from Antonio on Saturday, said Ferguson. The question is whether we can play him from the start or continue as we did on Saturday as a substitute. Its a great selection problem for me.
United are seeking a fifth successive quarter final appearance, while Marseille have not been in the last eight since winning the first ever Champions League trophy in 1993. We have to recognise that they are experienced and powerful, said Ferguson of the French champions.
Its going to be a hard game. They are a good team, I think in these games at Old Trafford... its always a terrific atmosphere, that does help us.
United are unbeaten in all competitions this season and have never lost to French opposition at Old Trafford.
Elsewhere, in Munich, Bayern Munich defend their one-goal lead over champions Inter Milan, buoyed by their biggest win of the season and seemingly unfazed by the departure of coach Louis van Gaal.
Five days after Bayern announced Van Gaal would leave at the end of the season, they demolished Hamburg SV 6-0 on Saturday to restore confidence after three successive defeats.
Van Gaal, whose contract was due to expire in 2012, has paid the price for a poor campaign after the clubs domestic double last season, but the Dutchman can still go out on a high in the Champions League.
Bayern, who lost to Inter in last years European Cup final, host the Italians in the second leg of their last-16 tie after winning 1-0 at the San Siro last month. Everyone saw (against Hamburg) how Bayern can really play, Van Gaal said.
The goals liberated us and this was just the perfect preparation going into the game against Inter.
Van Gaal is likely to return Brazilian Luiz Gustavo to the midfield to partner Bastian Schweinsteiger after he replaced suspended Breno in central defence on Saturday.
We said changes have to start now, to support each other more, said Dutch winger Arjen Robben, who scored a hattrick against Hamburg to make it eight goals in eight league games since he returned from a six-month injury lay-off. I saw our players become more confident and that is how we must continue.
Former Bayern defender Lucio is a major doubt for Inter. The Brazilian was replaced by Ivan Cordoba with 25 minutes to go of Fridays 1-1 Serie A draw with Brescia after pulling a muscle in his right leg.
Lucios presence is considered crucial with fellow centre-back Walter Samuel already out for the season. Cordoba had a torrid performance on Friday, gifting Brescia an equaliser before committing a professional foul to give away a penalty and being sent off.
Happier news for Inter coach Leonardo is that defender Cristian Chivu and midfielder Esteban Cambiasso are back in training after injuries and should start. With Giampaolo Pazzini cup-tied, Goran Pandev, whose performances have been more impressive of late, is likely to partner the in-form Samuel Eto up front.