MANCHESTER, March 13 – Manchester United defender Nemanja Vidic believes there is still more to come from his partnership with Rio Ferdinand as the pair gear up for the closing stage of the Premier League title race.Ferdinand’s season has been interrupted by back problems and Vidic’s appearances have also been restricted by an ankle injury.
But the central defenders are set to play together for just the third time this year when Fulham visit Old Trafford on Sunday.
They have returned in front of goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar, who has also struggled with his fitness this season, with successive clean sheets in the 1-0 victory over Wolves and the 4-0 thumping of AC Milan.
Serbia international Vidic feels it will take a while longer for him and Ferdinand to reach peak form despite such an impressive start to their renewed relationship.
"We’ve both been injured for a while and I think we need a few more games before we hit top form," Vidic said.
"But nothing has changed since we’ve been out – we always know how to play together.
"We understand each other – he knows how I will react in certain situations and it’s the same the other way round.
"It’s frustrating when you’re out and hard to watch the games because you want to be out there helping your team. But we’re back now and hopefully the injuries are behind us."
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson also feels that the return of his first-choice centre-back pairing will be key to United’s run in.
As they prepare to face Roy Hodgson’s Fulham, who have won just once at United in 47 years, their home form is already ominous.
Since the shock FA Cup third round defeat to League One club Leeds, they have won six straight matches, never hitting fewer than three goals in each, scoring a total of 22 goals and conceding just once.
Ferguson thinks that Vidic and Ferdinand rekindling their partnership will give United even more of an edge.
He said: "They haven’t played a lot of games this season and to have them back is fantastic for us. They were brilliant on Wednesday against Milan and it gives us a big chance, that consistency and experience.
"I see the two of them there together and there’s a sense of security.
"When you have those two back together you have the experience, the authority, the understanding with each other, it was great to see.
"I think that and having Van der Sar back because he was out with a long-term injury. Having those three back, it makes an unbelievable difference."
Ferguson continues to insist that a record fourth straight Premier League title and winning a record 19th in total is his only motivation, not the fact that United could beat bitter rivals Liverpool’s tally of 18.
"I think the record we’re chasing is four titles in a row and that would be fantastic," Ferguson said.
"It would be the 19th title, the most in the league. It doesn’t matter who you beat to that, it’s a record. We have got a chance."
Fulham’s American forward Clint Dempsey could make his first Premier League appearance for two months after recovering from a knee injury.
The Cottagers’ trip to Old Trafford comes just three days after their 3-1 Europa League defeat to Juventus in Turin.
Fulham will look to overturn that deficit against the Italian giants at Craven Cottage on Thursday.
But Australian goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer insists his team can only afford to focus on United as they prepare for a vital week.
He said: "It’s a great position to be in and there are a lot of clubs that would love to be in the situation we’re in and we’ll try to take advantage of it.
"We’ll focus on Sunday’s game now and see what we can do at Old Trafford."