Carrick welcomes back Rio

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Michael Carrick is delighted England team-mate Rio Ferdinand will be around to aid Manchester United's bid to reach the Champions League final on Tuesday night.

Sir Alex Ferguson feared Ferdinand would miss the second leg of United's semi-final against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium after coming off at Old Trafford last week clutching his ribs - fears that intensified when the England defender started coughing up blood in the home dressing room, prompting an overnight stay in hospital - but Carrick is relieved his former West Ham team-mate is fit.

"Only certain players in the squad have the presence he has," said Carrick. "It makes a difference when he is there."

Ferdinand's reaction was caused by a bruised lung suffered in collision with Edwin van der Sar, with X-rays revealing no break as Ferguson had first thought.

The 30-year-old did miss Saturday's win at Middlesbrough. However, he was able to train on Monday morning and Ferguson declared his £29.1million man fit for battle, and set to partner Nemanja Vidic in central defence.

Ferguson was delighted, knowing a clean sheet will be enough to take United to Rome for a May 27 meeting with either Chelsea or Barcelona.

As United had conceded just one goal on their European travels all season, at Celtic in the group phase, few are expecting Arsenal to get the three goals they would require if United can get one.

However, in keeping clean sheets in the knock-out stage against Inter Milan and FC Porto, United's defence has set a standard Ferguson is anxious should be maintained.

"It is a different game nowadays," reflected Ferguson. "You must have a far better concentration in defence now, as we did in Porto.

"We need that kind of performance again on Tuesday night. We are capable of it. When my defenders really concentrate and when they are really ready for the big games they are usually very good."

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European News
Edwin Van der Sar
Premier League
Michael Carrick
UEFA Champions League
Manchester United
Nemanja Vidic
Rio Ferdinand

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