Man United hope to have Ferdinand back

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LONDON - Brief news ahead of this weekend's Premier League matches:

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson hopes to have experienced defender Rio Ferdinand available for Saturday's trip to Stoke City.

Ferdinand, who missed last weekend's victory over Chelsea with a calf injury, has featured in only two of United's opening five Premier League games.

"Hopefully I'll have Rio tomorrow," Ferguson told reporters on Friday. "His experience away from home in a game like this is always important."

Arsenal full-back Bacary Sagna faces a late fitness test ahead of Saturday's visit of Bolton Wanderers.

The defender was forced off during the club's 4-3 defeat to Blackburn Rovers last weekend.

"Sagna has a fitness test on Friday but I expect him to be okay," manager Arsene Wenger said on the club website.

"He got a kick on his thigh at Blackburn and had to come off. His first test was encouraging. He will have a final one on Friday."

Loan signing Yossi Benayoun will miss the match with a muscle injury after scoring in Tuesday's 3-1 League Cup win over fourth-tier outfit Shrewsbury Town.

Tottenham Hotspur will be without Niko Kranjcar for the trip to Wigan Athletic on Saturday after the Croatia midfielder suffered a hamstring injury in Sunday's 4-0 win over Liverpool.

Striker Roman Pavlyuchenko is also out with a hamstring problem while left-back Benoit Assou-Ekotto is a slight doubt with a throat infection.

Brazil midfielder Sandro, who played against Stoke City in the League Cup on Tuesday, is available again after a long-term injury and Ledley King should be fit to marshal the defence who will be seeking a fifth successive clean sheet.

Liverpool could soon welcome back defenders Fabio Aurelio and Glen Johnson after the pair returned to training ahead of Saturday's home game against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Aurelio, who has been plagued by injuries since he joined Liverpool in 2006, has not played for the club since the final game of last season.

Johnson suffered a recurrence of a hamstring problem in his only appearance this season in Liverpool's 1-0 defeat to Stoke City.

"Fabio is back in training and Glen Johnson started light training," manager Kenny Dalglish told reporters on Thursday. "Everybody else is fit which is good for us."

Manchester City midfielder Nigel de Jong will not be fit in time for Saturday's game at home to Everton but should feature next week against either Bayern Munich in the Champions League or Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League.

"In the last week he has improved a lot... he is important for us," manager Roberto Mancini told a news conference in reference to De Jong, who has been sidelined with an ankle injury.

Fellow midfielder James Milner could be back after suffering a clash of heads two weeks ago, with Mancini saying he is "not 100 percent but he is OK".

Defender Kolo Toure, who made his return this week in the League Cup after serving a six-month doping ban, is likely to feature in either the Everton game or the Bayern match but not both.