Mid-season internationals are often met with disapproval from Barclays Premier League managers.
But at this stage of the season, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson says that the break in the domestic calendar couldn’t have come at a better time for his title-chasing squad.
The Red Devils are still challenging for trophies on three different fronts, and as a result face a fiercely congested fixture list between now and the end of the season.
The busy schedule has taken its toll on an injury-ravaged squad – something that was all the more evident in last weekend’s encounter against Bolton Wanderers at Old Trafford.
United edged past Owen Coyle’s side with a closely contested 1-0 victory. But having seen out the tie with an already makeshift backline, the Reds’ depleted squad was further thinned after the dismissal of Jonny Evans added to yet more injury worries for Wes Brown.
Speaking to MUTV, Sir Alex beamed, "It’s come at an absolutely fantastic time for us. We’ve got the bonus of two weeks’ rest to patch up the injuries, and hopefully that'll be the biggest break of all."
United currently sit five points clear at the top of the Barclays Premier League table, and Ferguson believes that welcome returns to the first-team squad for a number of his sidelined stars will only improve their chances of success this season.
"It’s a great lead," he said. "Obviously they’ve got a game in hand, Arsenal, but we’ve got the points and we don’t need to worry about that part.
"Ji-sung Park will be back in two weeks’ time, away at West Ham. Vidic will be back, Darren Fletcher hopefully.
"If we get the players back, all our major players we’ll have a great chance."
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