The Telegraph notes:
Manchester United manager Ferguson has told staff that he is “hopeful” of being able to select Ferdinand at centre-half at the Britannia Stadium, which would enable him to move Phil Jones to right-back at Stoke in place of Chris Smalling, who faces two weeks out with a groin strain.
With captain Nemanja Vidic still a week away from a return following a calf injury, United could be forced to face Stoke with an inexperienced back four including Jones, Jonny Evans and Fabio da Silva if Ferdinand fails to prove his fitness.
The 32 year-old has combined training with yoga sessions at United’s Carrington training ground this week, however, and is expected to be fit to face Tony Pulis’s team.
Meanwhile, 19-year-old defender Zeki Fryers is targeting further first-team experience after being handed his senior debut in United’s Carling Cup victory at Leeds.
Despite the fine form of United’s defensive players, there’s no denying that a fit Rio Ferdinand is arguably one of the best defenders in the world and the man for the job when it comes to organising the back four.
Stoke have some fairly useful front men in Kenwyne Jones and Peter Crouch and Ferdinand’s experience could be invaluable in a game, that could prove to be far trickier than many expect.