Rio Ferdinand will make his comeback from a knee ligament injury in a reserve team game at Oldham tonight, almost a month earlier than scheduled.
The 31-year-old was forced to pull out of the England world cup squad after after a collision with Emile Heskey damaging his knee ligaments in the first training session on South African soil, but Sir Alex Ferguson will be boosted by the return of his centre-back.
Ferdinand has missed Manchester United’s first three games of the season, but the Red Devils haven’t missed him as they stand two points behind Chelsea in third place and are 9/4 to win the Premier League.
If Ferdinand comes through tonight’s fixture unscathed, he could be in line for United’s next Premier League game with Everton on September 11th, which precedes home games with Rangers in the Champions League and then Liverpool.
Ferguson revealed that his captain had made a rapid recovery and he was looking for a game during the international break, the England vs Bulgaria match comes too soon for Ferdinand to contemplate a return to the international set-up.
Fabio Capello would dearly love to have Ferdinand in his starting 11 after the withdrawal of John Terry but England will have to do without Rio as they look to get their 2012 European Qualifying campaign off to the best possible start.
England are 3/10 to beat Bulgaria and 2/7 to top their qualifying group that also includes Switzerland, Wales and Montenegro.
Even without Rio, England should comfortably win at home. See the latest International football betting markets here.