Rio and Rooney boost Ferguson belief

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MANCHESTER - Rio Ferdinand's return from injury and Wayne Rooney's scoring form have boosted Alex Ferguson's belief his Manchester United side will overcome Manchester City in the League Cup semi-finals on Wednesday.

Holders United trail City 2-1 from the first leg but Ferguson is confident his full-strength side, who have no new injury worries, will overturn the deficit at Old Trafford to meet Aston Villa in the final.

United are in confident mood after beating Hull City 4-0 on Saturday to go top of the Premier League with Rooney scoring all four goals.

"I have a big, strong squad. It's going to be a fantastic game, I know that," Ferguson told the club's website.

"Maybe even better than last week's. We're ready for it and we hope that our experience helps. "Getting our centre-backs back is key to our progress," he said. "We've had a topsy-turvy spell with defenders out injured. Getting those players back and having continuity is important."

30-GOAL TARGET

Rooney continued his rich vein of scoring form against Hull, the first time he has scored four in a game in his senior career, and Ferguson believes he could reach 30 in a season for the first time.

The 24-year-old England striker has already netted 20 times, just three short of his season's best tally achieved in 2006-07.

"I think he's become more aware of the penalty box. Playing him in that direct role has given him the appetite to be in the box all the time," Ferguson told reporters.

"The main reason he's scoring the goals is because he's in the right place at the right time and that's what goal-scorers do.

"He's got 20 and I think the crucial part of the season is coming up and he could easily get to above 30."

The first leg was marred by a confrontation between former United striker Carlos Tevez and United substitute Gary Neville and the FA and police have been in touch with both clubs.

"With feisty games, in terms of the competitive level of Liverpool and Leeds United games since I've been here, the players' behaviour has always been good," Ferguson said.

"We don't have any issues with that. The players' behaviour has always been perfect. We've got great players who play to the right rules of the game and we've never had any issues in big games."