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The former England captain, who should be fit to take on Newcastle United on Wednesday, believes the 6-1 loss at Old Trafford came as an important wake-up call to the club

Rio Ferdinand has admitted that Manchester United’s 6-1 home defeat to Manchester City might have been the best thing to happen to them this season.

United were stunned when City triumphed so convincingly at Old Trafford earlier this season, with Sir Alex Ferguson calling it his ‘worst day’ in football.

But Ferdinand believes the run of eight wins and a draw in their following nine matches, before last Saturday’s home defeat to Blackburn Rovers, shows that it proved to be a positive result for the club.

“It pains me to say it, but it [the City defeat] was probably one of the best things that happened to us,” he told The Sun.

“We were playing very open football. It made us sit back and think we’ve got to tighten up. If we do that, we have the players to exploit any other team when we go forward.”

United face City for the third time this season – after their 3-2 win in the Community Shield – when they travel to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday for the FA Cup third round clash.

Before that though, they have an important league match at the Sports Direct Arena against Newcastle United as they look to respond to City’s 3-0 home win against Liverpool which put them three points clear, albeit having played a game more than their rivals.

Ferdinand looks set to return to the first team after three games out with a back injury and will give some much needed experience to a defence which consisted of midfielders Michael Carrick and Antonio Valencia against Blackburn.

“We’ve got a crazy amount of injuries and illnesses, yet we’re still managing to get results,” he said.

“The manager always said it’s not about 11 men. It’s a squad game now and everyone has to play their part.”

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