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May 26, 2009

Ferdinand declares himself fit for Barcelona clash

Rio Ferdinand has declared himself fit to face Barcelona in the Champions League final.

The Manchester United defender has been struggling with a calf injury picked up in the semi-final, second leg at Arsenal earlier this month and did not make Sunday's Premier League trip to Hull as demanded by Sir Alex Ferguson.

However, it now seems almost certain Ferdinand will face Barcelona as United look to become the first side to defend the European Cup since it was rebranded as the Champions League in 1992.

''The injury is fine,'' he said. ''I have been training and feel good. I am glad to be back.''

As Jonny Evans has proved himself to be a capable stand-in on plenty of occasions this season, Ferguson did have a ready-made alternative if his £29.1m defender failed to make it.

That scenario does not appear likely, with Ferdinand insisting he would not risk the team by putting himself forward for selection if he was not 100%.

''I wouldn't do that,'' he said. ''There is no way I will play if my fitness was detrimental to the team.

''Tomorrow is more about the team winning than me playing in a cup final.

''In any case, I have been working hard with the medical staff and training well. There are no problems. I am fine.''

With Ferguson revealing no other injury concerns, he must wrestle overnight with a thorny selection dilemma.

United's defence picks itself, while Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney also appear certain of their places.

Michael Carrick is expected to be involved as well along with veteran Ryan Giggs, leaving midfield duo Anderson and Park Ji-sung, who did not even get a place on the bench against Chelsea last year, to scrap it out with Carlos Tevez and Dimitar Berbatov for the remaining two slots.

Team (from): Van der Sar, Kuszczak, O'Shea, Rafael, Neville, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evans, Evra, Nani, Ronaldo, Scholes, Anderson, Carrick, Giggs, Park, Rooney, Tevez, Berbatov, Welbeck, Macheda.

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