Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand is confident of being fit for the Champions League final on Wednesday despite Sir Alex Ferguson casting doubts over his chances of making the match.
The United manager said on Wednesday that Ferdinand would have to play against Hull City on Sunday to prove his fitness ahead of the showdown against Barcelona, but the player himself believes that will not be necessary.
The skipper has already started ball work and feels he is completely on track to play in Rome against the Spanish champions. It is news that will delight fans of the Old Trafford club who feel Ferdinand's superb central defensive partnership with Nemanja Vidic will be key to their hopes of shutting out the Spanish side's attacking talent.
He said: "I've not thought about not playing in the final. It's as simple as that, no chance. I trained with the ball today [Wednesday] and did some running, so I'm doing all the movements I need to be doing before a game.
"This has been perhaps the hardest and most important injury battle of my career. There is so much at stake. I haven't even thought much about the actual details of the final.
"I've been so engrossed in my injury that I haven't thought about much else. I'll start thinking about the actual match when I'm sitting on the plane to Rome.
"You'll have to ask the manager if I'm playing, but physically I'd be able to do it, no problem.''
In Northern Ireland star Jonny Evans, Ferguson knows he has the perfect replacement.
"I would not be bothered one bit if Evans played in the final,'' said Ferguson. "The kid has had a fantastic season.
"I am hoping Rio will be fit for Sunday. If not he will be doubtful for Wednesday that is for sure because he needs a game.
"I think he will probably be fit to play next Wednesday but to go into the Champions League final after three weeks without a game is just too much.''
Definitely involved will be John O'Shea.
"John takes his place in Rome because he deserves it,'' said Ferguson. "He is ahead of everyone now. To my mind he is one of the unsung heroes, like we had when Denis Irwin was here.''