Ferguson focusing on defensive reshuffle


Manchester United's injury list has been mounting game by game of late, but Sir Alex Ferguson hopes he will be able to call upon the services of Phil Jones and Chris Smalling for the New Year's Day clash with Blackburn Rovers.

With further setbacks for the likes of Rio Ferdinand and now Jonny Evans, the Red Devils were left with an unfamiliar back line which finished the 5-0 victory over Wigan Athletic on Boxing Day.

Michael Carrick started in an unfamiliar central defensive role, and was later joined by Patrice Evra, with United youngster Ezekiel Fryers deployed at left full-back, and Antonio Valencia on the opposite flank.

"We've had a nightmare in the last few days," Ferguson told MUTV. "Phil Jones and Chris Smalling have both been ill.

"Then Rio [Ferdinand] cried off on Sunday with a back injury and Jonny Evans came off injured at half-time [against Wigan].

"It does put you under a bit of pressure, but fortunately we had a good first half and got an early goal which helped us."

The victory moves United level on points with leaders Manchester City who drew 0-0 with West Brom at The Hawthorns, and Ferguson is hopeful his players can push on in January.

"We managed to get through the game without any more injuries," he added. "[And] I'm hoping that Smalling and Jones will have recovered from illness [for Saturday] as that will make a difference."

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