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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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Rio Ferdinand out with groin injury

Rio Ferdinand has a groin injury and is set to miss Manchester United's Premier League opener at Everton on Monday night.

The injury could keep Ferdinand out for a month.

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is already stretched in defense for the trip to Goodison Park. Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Jonny Evans will all miss the match.

Michael Carrick is in line to play at center back alongside Nemanja Vidic, who will make his first competitive appearance for United since suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury against FC Basel in the Champions League last December.

Evans has not played all summer after ankle surgery, though he is close to returning. Smalling is out until mid-October following an operation on a broken metatarsal, while Jones -- who has been troubled by back spasms -- has been told by United's medical team to rest for a month.

According to reports in Holland, 23-year-old Dutch left back Alexander Buttner has flown to England on Sunday to undergo a medical with United on Monday ahead of penning a five-year contract.

Ferguson is hopeful that midfielder Darren Fletcher is getting closer to a comeback. The Scotland midfielder, 28, has been out of action since last December, when United revealed he was suffering from the chronic bowel condition ulcerative colitis.

But he played his first full 90 minutes for nine months as United beat Stoke at Nantwich on Saturday morning in the Under-21 Premier League -- which allows sides to field three over-age outfield players.

That came after a surprise 30-minute appearance in a friendly against Aberdeen at Pittodrie on Wednesday.

Information from Press Association was used in this report.

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