Smalling and Jones face United fitness tests

Manchester United faced more injury woes on Friday with manager Sir Alex Ferguson saying defenders Chris Smalling and Phil Jones would undergo late fitness tests before the weekend's Premier League match at home to Bolton Wanderers.

The champions' season has been disrupted by a steady stream of injuries, with centre-back Nemanja Vidic out for the season and midfielder Darren Fletcher taking an extended break from the game with a bowel condition.

Others sidelined include midfielder Tom Cleverley, winger Ashley Young and striker Michael Owen.

United will be seeking to close the gap on leaders Manchester City, who are three points clear at the top and do not play until Monday, when they host third-from-bottom Bolton on Saturday.

"We've one or two doubts for tomorrow - Smalling, Jones... we'll see what they're like tomorrow," Ferguson told a news conference.

"Anderson got a knock in training but hopefully he'll be OK... I think we've got a reasonable squad for tomorrow."

Ferguson's side have slumped to back-to-back league defeats, a 3-0 thumping at Newcastle United and a 3-2 loss at home to bottom club Blackburn Rovers.

They got back to winning ways last weekend with a 3-2 victory over neighbours Manchester City as they sent the holders out of the FA Cup in the third round but despite victory, Ferguson was critical of his side's carelessness.


He was also determined not to be bitten for a second time by a relegation-threatened side, warning his players not to make the same mistakes against Bolton they had against Blackburn.

"Any team that's down at the bottom of the league as we experienced against Blackburn we've got to address it properly," the Scot said.

"I know we went into the Blackburn game with respect for them but it wasn't a great performance. We need a good performance against a team that's going to be battling for everything.

"That's the thing you can guarantee from these clubs - they will fight for their existence, that's what we expect from Bolton, plus the fact it's a local derby game so that adds something to it."

Second-placed United, who hammered Bolton 5-0 at the Reebok earlier this season, have found themselves caught up by Tottenham Hotspur, who pulled level on 45 points with a 2-0 win over Everton on Wednesday.

With three teams so close together at the top and having such big points totals for this stage of the season, Ferguson reckoned it would take more than the 80 points his side notched last term to win this year's title.

"At the rate it's going it could be in the high 80s... which is surprising," he said.

But he added that it was highly unlikely the top teams would go on collecting points at the same rate.

"It's a hard task to maintain... that kind of consistency," he said. "Points will be dropped... it's just the nature of the league."