Ferguson flush with attacking options

Manchester United are battling a defensive injury crisis but manager Alex Ferguson can pick from a bevy of attacking options for Saturday's Premier League match at home to Aston Villa.

Fresh from a critic-silencing hat-trick against German side VfL Wolfsburg in Tuesday's 3-1 Champions League win, Michael Owen will be hoping to figure alongside fit-again Wayne Rooney or Dimitar Berbatov.

England striker Rooney, who has 11 league goals this season, is expected to return from a hamstring injury, while Bulgarian international Berbatov has overcome a knee problem.

Second-placed United, who head into the busy Christmas period two points behind leaders Chelsea, have endured a torrid injury spell of late with 15 players unavailable for the Wolfsburg match.

The expected return of Serbian centre-back Nemanja Vidic from flu could not be more welcome for Ferguson after the Scot was forced to play midfielders in defence in his last two games.

"We expect Vidic to be ready for Saturday. Ryan (Giggs) is fit and I also think Rooney and Berbatov will both be okay," Ferguson told the club website.

"If I have that availability I am okay and I'll be happy enough because I can play a back four of (Darren) Fletcher, (Michael) Carrick, Vidic and (Patrice) Evra."

With defenders Rio Ferdinand, John O'Shea, Jonny Evans, Wes Brown, Gary Neville and the Da Silva brothers, Rafael and Fabio, all missing, an unusual back four could become somewhat familiar for United's next few games.

Despite their troubles they have recorded three straight league wins with 11 goals scored and just one conceded ahead of the Old Trafford clash against a Villa side in fifth place and eight points behind them.

"We have a very difficult game on Saturday against Villa, they are always very hard to play against, but our form is good and you want that going into any game. Hopefully we can keep it going."