FERDINAND FACES UNCERTAIN FUTURE AFTER EURO SNUB
RIO FERDINAND is set to become a bit-part player at Old Trafford after being dumped for Manchester United’s trip to Benfica.
The defender has not travelled to Portugal as United open up their Champions League group campaign at the Stadium of Light.
And with youngsters Chris Smalling and Phil Jones (left) emerging as stars, Ferdinand may have to get used to sitting in the stands or on the bench.
The 32-year-old has been plagued by injuries over recent seasons and missed out on captaining England in their 2010 World Cup campaign.
Rio is not believed to have suffered a fresh injury, with manager Sir Alex Ferguson instead resting him after he played 90 minutes for the first time this season against Bolton on Saturday.
And that could spell a huge shift-change in United’s defence, with Rio being
used sparingly by his boss much like fellow senior pros Ryan Giggs, 37, and Paul Scholes, 36 – who retired last season.
Midweek Sport’s mole at Old Trafford said: “It looks like this is the end of Rio being an automatic firstchoice for Fergie.
“His injuries have been a problem for a few seasons and the manager wants to establish a younger defence that will play and develop together for a long time.
“Jones and Smalling have been superb since coming in as replacements and that’s not good news for Rio.”
The development could also affect Ferdinand’s England future.
Manager Fabio Capello dropped Chelsea’s Frank Lampard from the recent European Championship qualifier in Bulgaria due to poor club form. The Italian won’t look kindly on Ferdi not playing week in, week out at Old Trafford.