Fingers crossed for Ferguson

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After a perfect end to his 50th year in football, Sir Alex Ferguson is crossing his fingers the start of his 51st is injury free.

Manchester United recorded a 5-0 win over Stoke at Old Trafford, but the United boss then waved goodbye to some of his major stars to international duty. England duo Rio Ferdinand (back) and Wayne Rooney (calf) will be going nowhere, while Darren Fletcher has also been withdrawn from Scotland's high-profile encounter with Argentina.

However, with a trip to in-form Aston Villa looming next Saturday, Ferguson must sweat on the remainder, with Brazil's encounter with Portugal in Brasilia a particular concern. "We will have Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani and Anderson going over there, so God knows what time they will get back," Ferguson said. "It is not an easy trip that's for sure."

He added: "The fixture list has not been kind to us, so, although our record at Villa Park is fantastic, it will not be an easy game for us."

Ferguson was at least able to bask in United's biggest win of the season.

Ronaldo, who had a running battle with the Stoke supporters for most of the afternoon, opened the Red Devils account with his 100th goal for the club, lashing home a trademark free-kick after just three minutes.

He completed the scoring in similar fashion as well, confirming his full recovery from ankle surgery.

"That is nine for the season now," Ferguson added. "I am sure he will be into double figures very soon.

"Overall, he has scored 101 times in 253 appearances, which is an unbelievable return for a winger.

"He is back now that's for sure. We have been waiting for him to get a free-kick and the power he hit the first one with was very impressive."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2008, All Rights Reserved.

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Stoke City
Manchester United
Cristiano Ronaldo
Darren Fletcher
Wayne Rooney
Aston Villa
Rio Ferdinand

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