Football

Manchester United Vs Hull City, Sat 23 Jan 2010

Ferdinand back for Reds (©PAphotos)
Ferdinand back for Reds (©PAphotos).

Rio Ferdinand will make his long-awaited return for Manchester United against Hull on Saturday.

The England defender has been missing for three months with a back complaint but is expected to partner Jonny Evans in central defence as United look for the victory that would allow them to claim top spot in the Premier League.

Dimitar Berbatov has shaken off a dead leg and should also return after missing Tuesday's Carling Cup defeat at Manchester City.

Sir Alex Ferguson has called on his side to hit the accelerator as the Premier League title campaign enters another crucial phase.

With their interest in the FA Cup over at an early stage, United have the chance to jump above Chelsea and current leaders Arsenal by claiming top spot for the first time since October.

In the last week Chelsea have put seven goals past Sunderland and Arsenal roared back against Bolton in midweek to seize pole position on goal difference barely a month after being completely written off.

So, with the London duo flexing their muscles and other pretenders failing to beat opposition from much lower in the table, the title race is taking shape.

And Ferguson does not want to be left behind.

"You have to win your games now," he said. "Top of the league is the best place to be. Our game is the only one in Premier League so it is an opportunity for us."

Hull City's new loan signing Amr Zaki will not be available due to a lack of match fitness.

However defender Kamil Zayatte is expected to be despite an ankle injury. The problem requires minor surgery but that is likely to take place next month.

Jimmy Bullard (knee) is likely to be out until the end of the month.

City manager Phil Brown believes his players are capable of staging another surprise in Manchester to lift the Tigers out of the bottom three.

The match at Old Trafford is the only Premier League game of a weekend dominated by the FA Cup, and having already drawn at Manchester City this season Brown insists the same can be done against United.

Visits to Manchester have dominated Hull's continuing rollercoaster ride in the Premier League - a thrilling 4-3 defeat at Old Trafford last season was followed by the infamous half-time team talk on the pitch at Manchester City.

This season Jimmy Bullard inspired a 1-1 draw at Eastlands and though he will be missing against Sir Alex Ferguson's side, Brown says his players - brimming with confidence after a goalless draw at Tottenham - can capitalise on a United side who are not in the best form with just one win in their last four games.

Brown said: "We have to take the same togetherness, the same spirit and the same mentality that we had at White Hart Lane last week.

"If we bring that to the table, I think there is a great opportunity for a result to follow.

"There's references from last season for us having taken United so close at Old Trafford and scoring three goals there.

"But I'm not sure there's any such thing as a good time to play Manchester United."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

Topics:
Football
Premier League
Manchester United
Hull City
Rio Ferdinand

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