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Everton fringe players' chance

Everton
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Ferdinand winning Porto fitness race

Manchester United centre-back Rio Ferdinand is on course to be fit for the defending champions' must-win quarter-final Champions League tie with FC Porto on Wednesday night.

In his pre-match press conference, Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed that Ferdinand is expected to be fit, lauding the parnership he has formed with Nemanja Vidic that has served his side so well.

Ferdinand missed last week's first leg 2-2 draw at Old Trafford with a groin injury, but the defender did make the flight to Portugal and should partner Nemanja Vidic in central defence as United bid to become the first English team to win at the Estadio do Dragao.

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is desperate for Ferdinand to return to shore up United's leaky defence, which has shipped five goals in the England international's absence, and the 30-year-old may well undergo pain-killing injections to play.

The injured centre-back could have played in United's 2-1 win at Sunderland on Saturday, but it was decided not to take the risk to ensure he is fit for Wednesday. He is expected to join in full training in Portugal on Tuesday.

Brazilian full-back Rafael da Silva was also included in United's Champions League squad, along with fellow countryman Anderson, giving Ferguson all the options he wanted as United try to make history in Porto.

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