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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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Ferdinand: I'll be ready for World Cup

Crocked England centre-back Rio Ferdinand insists there is "no question" that he will be fit for next year's World Cup despite not playing for Manchester United since October.

The 31-year-old defender is suffering from a calf injury, which is thought to be linked with a long-standing back problem, and hasn't played for his club since United lost 2-0 at arch-rivals Liverpool two months ago.

But United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has denied that the defender's injury is long-term one and believes he will soon be back in action for the defending Premier League champions.

England manager Fabio Capello has insisted that his 23-man World Cup squad will not include anyone who is not fully fit, raising doubts about the 31-year-old's prospects of going to South Africa.

Ferdinand has played only 12 internationals since Capello took over two years ago, but the former West Ham United defender insists he will be ready to answer the Italian's call when he names his squad next summer.

"I'm confident I'll be fit. There's no question I'll be ready for next summer," Ferdinand said.

Ferdinand has been seeing a specialist in London to try and speed up his recovery. No timescale has been set for his return to action but he is confident he will be back soon.

"It's the worst thing for a player to be injured and to be just watching your team, so I've been working hard in the gym to get fit," said Ferdinand.

"The treatment on my injury is going well. It's been quite slowly but we're getting there. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It's been a tough and long layoff for me because I have never been injured before."

United's defence has been ravaged by injury recently with Wes Brown, Jonny Evans, John O'Shea and Gary Neville all joining Ferdinand on the sidelines.

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