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English Premiership

Rio to link up with England

MANCHESTER, February 26- Newly installed England captain Rio Ferdinand will travel to his country's training base next week despite a back injury that has ruled him out of Sunday's League Cup final.Ferdinand is receiving treatment for the back problem that has ruled him out of Manchester United’s Wembley clash with Aston Villa, as well as the international friendly with Egypt at Wembley next Wednesday.

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson also fears Ferdinand will miss David Beckham’s eagerly-anticipated Old Trafford return in the Champions League with AC Milan on March 10.

But, having replaced John Terry as captain of the national side following allegations about the Chelsea defender’s private life, Ferdinand is keen to commence his new role as quickly as possible with the countdown to the World Cup well underway.

Ferguson said he had no problem with Ferdinand meeting up with England coach Fabio Capello next week should he wish to do so.

"Rio won’t be training here anyway so it’s no problem for me," said Ferguson, who revealed that the injury could take until mid-March to heal.

"We think he’ll be back in two weeks, but I don’t think he’ll be back for the Milan game."

With United’s season entering a crucial phase, Ferguson could do with a fully fit Ferdinand, particularly after Brazilian midfielder Anderson was ruled out for the rest of the season with cruciate knee ligament damage.

United will lift the League Cup for the third time in five seasons should they beat Villa.

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Although it is the Premier League title and the Champions League that United supporters crave most, Ferguson is likely to field a strong side as he looks to secure English football’s first silverware of the season.

Ferguson may recall Dutchman Edwin Van Der Sar after resting his first-choice goalkeeper in mid-week.

Ben Foster, United’s hero when they won the League Cup against Tottenham on penalties last season, kept a clean sheet in the 3-0 victory over West Ham on Tuesday but that might not be enough to secure him a start.

Long-serving Van der Sar suffered a knee injury earlier in the season before being placed on compassionate leave after his wife, Annemarie, suffered a brain haemorrhage.

He has since returned to action and played in nine successive matches before being rested in mid-week.

"I have three good goalkeepers and I need to choose the right one," added Ferguson, who can also call upon Polish international Tomasz Kuszczak.

"I gave Edwin a rest on Tuesday because he has come through quite a tough period, having come back from his injury and also his family situation.

"He has not missed a game. He has played right through all the mid-week games as well. West Ham was an opportunity to give him a rest.

"I have to consider what is the right thing to do on Sunday."

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