United begin their preparations for the campaign by facing South African Premier League outfit Amazulu in Durban on Wednesday, with Ferguson revealing he will hand Irish youngster Robbie Brady his debut at left-back in the absence of Patrice Evra, who is on an extended break following his involvement at Euro 2012 with France.
With Vidic staying behind in Manchester to continue his training programme,
doubts had been raised over the 30 year-old’s ability to make the
But although Ferguson admitted that Jonny Evans was unlikely to be fit to start the season after recent foot surgery, he insisted that Vidic was on course to return to heart of United’s defence.
“Vidic will start the season. I’m sure of that,” Ferguson said. “He’s doing good amounts of training, but not in the competitive sense in the way the lads out here have done.
“It was pointless bringing him with us. He’s back at Carrington, with the facilities and the physios, so he can get to the next level. By the time he comes back [to the squad], we hope he’ll be at the competitive stage of his comeback.
“Jonny Evans had an operation and I’m not sure he’ll start the season, but he won’t be far away. And Chris Smalling has actually done a bit of training but the ruptured groin muscle he suffered needed a lot of attention. He’s making progress and I expect him to start the season too.”
Ferguson conceded that his squad lacked cover for Evra. United retain an interest in Everton and England left-back Leighton Baines, but no contact has yet been made with Goodison Park or the player’s camp.
“Left-back is an area which we’re paying attention to,” Ferguson said. “Patrice, in the last five years, has played an average of 45-50 games a season. It’s phenomenal, but he’s still a fit lad and has the same drive and ambition. He’s a fighter.
“With Fabio on loan at QPR for a year we’re just a little bit short in that department. That’s why we’re trying Robbie Brady at left-back. We also have Tyler Blackett here. He’s only just turned 18, but he may surprise us.”
Ferguson says that United’s prime objective is to wrestle the league title
“Priority number one is to win the title back. We want to recover the title – it’s been an important part of the history of our club over the last 20 years,” he said. “We have to recover, as we’ve done many times, and that’s our target this year.
“It would be special. If you look back over different periods, we recover. When Arsenal won the title from us in 1998 we went and won the Treble the next year.
“Then Chelsea came along and got off to a flier in the league for the first two years, so we changed our pre-season a little to make sure we got off to quick starts. That allowed us to get the title back.”
Rio Ferdinand has raised further doubts over his
Ferdinand will return to action for United against Amazulu and the 33 year-old admits that it is his Old Trafford career, rather than his England ambitions, which now dominate his thoughts.
“I’m not thinking about playing international football,” Ferdinand said. “Manchester United is at the forefront of my mind. It’s my club and this is what I love doing. If anything else comes of it so be it.”