Mixed news for Man United defenders

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

Manchester United received mixed news on their injured centre-backs before Monday's match at home to Tottenham Hotspur. Nemanja Vidic faces a longer than anticipated spell on the sidelines with a calf injury but Rio Ferdinand is expected to return sooner.

Vidic could be out for up to five weeks, while Ferdinand could be back from a hamstring problem in time for the August 28 game against Arsenal, manager Sir Alex Ferguson told a news conference on Friday.

Fellow defender Rafael has had an operation on his shoulder this week and will be out for 10 weeks, while left-back Patrice Evra is available after a knee injury.

Tottenham midfielder Luka Modric, who has been heavily linked with a move to Chelsea, could have recovered from a groin injury in time for Monday's trip to Old Trafford, local media quoted manager Harry Redknapp as saying.

Modric missed Thursday's 5-0 win over Hearts in their Europa League play-off first leg.

Spurs are without fellow midfielders Sandro, Wilson Palacios, Steven Pienaar and Jermaine Jenas.

Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas must pick between goalkeepers Hilario and Ross Turnbull for Saturday's home match against West Bromwich Albion after first choice keeper Petr Cech was ruled out for four weeks with a knee injury.

Brazil defender David Luiz is still out with a thigh injury which he has carried since returning from the Copa America, while John Obi Mikel is continuing to make himself available despite the abduction of his father in Nigeria, the club said on their website.

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini will decide on Saturday whether new striker Sergio Aguero is ready to start at Bolton Wanderers on Sunday after a dazzling debut as a substitute earlier this week.

"He is not 100 percent at the moment," Mancini told a news conference on Friday, saying the Argentine was still recovering from his exploits at the Copa America.

"OK, he scored two fantastic goals because he knows his job but he has to know very well his team-mates... tomorrow I will decide after the last training session [if he is fit to start]."

Aguero came off the bench in the second half to score twice and set up another in Monday's 4-0 win over Swansea City.

Midfielder Nigel de Jong faces a late fitness test after knocking his ankle in their league opener this week.

Arsenal defender Kieran Gibbs will miss Saturday's match at home to Liverpool with a hamstring strain, while Tomas Rosicky and Armand Traore are doubtful for the match which will mark the start of life without Cesc Fabregas.

"Rosicky has a slight thigh problem and Traore has a slight groin problem. We will make a late decision on both of them," Gunners manger Arsene Wenger said on the club's website.

Wenger added he was hopeful that centre-back Johan Djourou will have recovered from a minor hamstring strain while midfielder Jack Wilshere will remain sidelined although his injured ankle is getting better by the day.

Gervinho and Alex Song are suspended after being given three-match bans after last weekend's ill-tempered 0-0 draw at Newcastle United. Wenger has included Manchester City transfer target Samir Nasri in his squad.

Glen Johnson is a doubt for Liverpool's trip to Emirates Stadium with a hamstring problem while fellow defender Martin Skrtel is available after returning to training following a calf injury.

Manager Kenny Dalglish said that despite Arsenal's absences and suspensions, the Londoners would still pose a stiff test.

"It's not going to make it any easier for us that they've lost Fabregas," he told reporters. "They've got a couple of suspensions but it's still going to be a difficult game."