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Mar, 28, 2012

Ferdinand fit for title charge

Rio Ferdinand has confirmed he is fit for Manchester United's title run-in, and he warned rivals Manchester City that the champions can even afford to have off-days because somebody in the team is guaranteed to take responsibility.

Ferdinand came off with 16 minutes remaining in United's recent 1-0 home win against Fulham, a substitution that seemed unusual given the precarious nature of their lead. However, the England defender revealed he was only being protected by Sir Alex Ferguson.

"I came off with a stiff back, just as a precaution," Ferdinand said in the Daily Mirror. "But it's fine, there are no problems."

United were far from at their best against Fulham and were fortunate to escape a late penalty decision when Michael Carrick appeared to trip Danny Murphy. Neither Ryan Giggs nor Ferdinand are concerned by the shaky nature of victory though, insisting there is no anxiety in the air at Old Trafford.

Ferdinand claims less experienced title challengers, like City themselves, might be pressing the panic button in games where they are struggling for a breakthrough, but - as United proved at Norwich - the champions have a belief right until the final whistle that somebody will score.

"You've got to hold your nerve, but just as important as that, if not more important, is trusting each other," said the England defender. "You've got to trust in the fact that, if you're not going to create a chance, someone else is.

"Or if you're not going to put your head on the ball when it comes into the box or make that tackle, someone else is.

"Ideally, we'd like to have played better football [against Fulham], but it wasn't to be. But if teams are going to come to Old Trafford and frustrate us, as they have over the years, we know we're still going to create chances.

"We don't care what happens with them [City], it's about us. If we can remain calm and win all our games, we'll be successful. As long as we keep winning our games, that's all that matters. It [City's form] doesn't really play on our minds, to be honest.

"It happens every year and at this stage of the season we know what it takes. We've got comfort in the knowledge that we can create chances and remain calm.

"The crowd got a bit edgy at the end of the [Fulham] game, understandably. But if it's 0-0 after 88 minutes we still know we're going to create chances in the dying moments to win games and it's important to keep that in mind."

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