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Rio, John return for crucial tie

London: Manchester United will be boosted by the return from injury of defender Rio Ferdinand for Sunday’s mouth-watering Premier League match against Chelsea, manager Alex Ferguson said on Friday. John Terry too would be returning to the Chelsea squad after a three-match ban, thus reinforcing the Blues’ defence ahead of their trip to Old Trafford.

England international Ferdinand has been suffering back spasms since last month but Ferguson said he would be available for the Old Trafford encounter.

“We are delighted to have Rio fit again and back in contention,” Ferguson told a news conference.

“He’s been having spasms and has missed the last few games and that’s given us an opportunity to get it settled down.

“He does make the difference as he has the stature and presence in a big game.”

The Scot said his third-placed team needed to take advantage of the fact that they would be playing at home against all their main title rivals in the second half of the season.

“Our home form is going to be 100 per cent in the run-in we hope,” he said.

“We’ve been away from home to all the top sides and now we’ve got them at home in the second half of the season and that will play a part in deciding whether we have a chance of winning (the title).

Ferguson said Chelsea’s scorching away form had made them a different prospect to previous seasons, voicing admiration for the way Luiz Felipe Scolari’s men won their first eight away games despite faltering unusually at home.

“Their away record, without question, has been outstanding. It’s a fantastic record. It’s a different set of statistics for Chelsea coming into this game.

“Normally you’re saying to yourself ‘unbeaten at home’, that’s carried them to their success in the last few years,” said Ferguson.

Scolari was glad to be welcoming back his own key player for the match, captain John Terry, available after a three-match suspension.

“It’s important for us because it is our captain. He is a man that has an important position on the pitch, he is a leader and plays very well every game,” Scolari told a news conference.

“I think he is somebody that the opposition players respect. It is very good for us.”

United, fresh from adding the World Club Cup to last year’s Champions and Premier League titles, have spent an estimated £16 million ($23.85 million) to bring in Serbian duo Zoran Tosic and Adem Ljajic from Partizan Belgrade. However, they suffered a hiccup on Wednesday when they were beaten 1-0 at Championship (second division) side Derby County in the first leg of their League Cup semi-final. (REUTERS)

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