Ferguson: Rooney & Rio could return

MANCHESTER - Sir Alex Ferguson is relying on bitter rivals Liverpool to keep up their fighting spirit against Chelsea on Sunday, even though their own Premier League title hopes are over.

Ferguson's Manchester United could profit if seventh-placed Liverpool beat league leaders Chelsea at Anfield, or hold them to a draw.

"I am confident and I have to be confident that Liverpool will be trying," Ferguson, whose side are one point behind Chelsea with two games to play, told a news conference on Friday.

"Great clubs don't throw their histories away, they don't throw their traditions away for one game. They have been in 10 European finals and won 18 titles and that is a fantastic history and you don't throw that away."

The United manager hopes to have striker Wayne Rooney and defender Rio Ferdinand fit for the trip to Sunderland on Sunday.

The duo have been struggling with groin injuries. Rooney, who also had an ankle problem, picked up a complaint in training last week while Ferdinand aggravated his groin against Blackburn Rovers earlier this month.

"We expect Wayne to join us in training and possibly Rio Ferdinand as well," Ferguson said. "We will see how they do but we have a couple of days.

"Wayne missed last week's game against Tottenham to allow the ankle to settle. We don't have any issues with that now. Hopefully he is okay," he added.

"Groin injuries can be a problem at this time of year when the grounds start to get firm but hopefully if he comes through today it gives us something to think about on Sunday."

Rooney has scored 34 goals in all competitions this season for United.

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