Man United boosted by return of back four

MANCHESTER - Premier League leaders Manchester United will welcome back their first-choice back four at home to Aston Villa on Tuesday.

Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Rafael and Patrice Evra missed Saturday's 2-1 victory over Southampton in the FA Cup, the second successive game United rallied to win after falling behind.

Villa may not be as forgiving as Southampton and Blackpool, having triumphed 1-0 in this fixture last season to collect their first victory at United for 26 years.

"We should have our back four back against Villa," manager Sir Alex Ferguson told the club website.

"Vidic should be alright. Rio started running on Thursday and hopefully will be okay by Tuesday. Rafael should also be okay, he got the all-clear on Friday and Evra had a family bereavement so we left him out at Southampton."

United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar is also available after being rested at the weekend.

A full midweek league programme will come just after the transfer window closes on Monday and there could be some new faces making their debuts.


Liverpool, showing signs of revival under Kenny Dalglish with back-to-back wins, have some paperwork to complete after Uruguay forward Luis Suarez passed a medical and are boosted by the return from injury of fan favourite Jamie Carragher.

Dalglish said on Monday the defender was available for Wednesday's match at home to Stoke City after dislocating his shoulder in November.

It remains to be seen whether Fernando Torres is still in a Liverpool shirt or will have moved south in time for Chelsea's trip to Sunderland on Tuesday, with the champions' pursuit of the striker the hot topic on deadline day.

Second-placed Arsenal, who trail United by five points, host Everton on Tuesday with manager Arsene Wenger without midfielder Samir Nasri after he picked up a hamstring injury that could sideline him for three weeks.

Third-placed Manchester City travel to Birmingham City on Wednesday and are hoping striker Carlos Tevez will have recovered from a back problem that kept him out of Sunday's 1-1 FA Cup draw with League One Notts County.

United have 51 points from 23 games, ahead of Arsenal on 46. Manchester City are a further point behind, having played a game more, while fourth-placed Chelsea are 10 points adrift of the leaders.