Defender fears played down by Fergie

Manchester United

Sir Alex Ferguson could have Phil Jones and Rio Ferdinand fit to face Blackburn, while he denied Chris Smalling has glandular fever.

The Manchester United boss hit out to rubbish reports that 22-year-old Smalling would be facing a three-month spell on the sidelines due to the illness and confirmed that, while he would miss the visit of Blackburn on Saturday, he should face Newcastle in midweek.

“Chris Smalling has got tonsillitis,” he said at his Friday press conference. “I know there are reports about glandular fever but they’re off the mark.

“He had glandular fever as a kid but that’s not the case here. He should be ready for the Newcastle game, at least definitely the Manchester City game in the FA Cup. He’ll be ready for those games.”

Ferguson admitted that defender Jones could return from illness to play against his former Rovers’ team-mates this weekend, while Ferdinand also has a chance of featuring.

“We don’t have much change,” added Ferguson. “Obviously injuries to the defenders are quite a concern now, with Jonny Evans taken off at half-time [on Monday]. We’re hoping Phil Jones will be fit, there’s possibly an outside chance that Rio Ferdinand will get on the bench. Other than that, we’re the same.”

United are still without Nemanja Vidic due to a long-term cruciate knee ligament injury, while Darren Fletcher, Ashley Young, Tom Cleverley, Anderson, Fabio da Silva and Michael Owen are also out with respective illness and injury problems.