Sir Alex wants Champions League qualification to keep Ferdinand fit

The Red Devils’ boss hopes that his side can secure a safe passage to the next round with a win over Braga on Wednesday, allowing him to rest the centre-back in the remaining games
Sir Alex Ferguson says he is hoping Manchester United can secure qualification to the knockout phase of the Champions League against Braga on Wednesday so that he can rest Rio Ferdinand.

The Scot has had to make do with a makeshift defence on occasion this campaign, with the likes of Nemanja Vidic, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones all missing large chunks of the season through injury.

A win against Braga would ensure that United qualify, and with Smalling and Jones close to a return, the Red Devils’ manager anticipates being able to rest Ferdinand in their remaining fixtures.

"The game in Braga will give me a chance to utilise my squad. I'll be making some changes," he told reporters.

"If we can get the win it's better, but we want to make sure we qualify first. If we do, it gives me options to utilise Smalling and Jones.

"Then we can make sure that Ferdinand is fresh for all these games. I won't have to worry about playing him Saturday, Wednesday, Saturday, Wednesday.

"That's an important issue. I don't expect [Nemanja] Vidic to be back until Christmas so it adds back-up in that respect."