Rio Ferdinand to lead Red Devils in South Africa
MANCHESTER United have handed the captaincy for their South African tour to Rio Ferdinand, who will wear the armband against AmaZulu and Ajax Cape Town this week.
Ferdinand was omitted from England's European Championship squad in the wake of his continuing feud with Chelsea defender John Terry, and so is one of the United stars who is fresh and already in pre-season. He takes over from injured regular skipper Nemanja Vidic.
Along with midfield maestro Paul Scholes, he will be one of the senior stars in what is otherwise a very young squad that does not include internationals Wayne Rooney, Patrice Evra, Tom Cleverley, Ryan Giggs, Vidic, David de Gea, Rafael, Nani, Phil Jones and Danny Welbeck.
Ferdinand said that he expected the competition in South Africa to be tough, not just from their opponents, but within the United squad as well as they jostle to catch the eye of manager Alex Ferguson.
"You don't want to lose a game, simple as that, as Manchester United you want to win every match. You are disappointed losing games in pre-season," Ferdinand said.
"Each and every player wants to go out there and prove to the manager that they deserve to have a starting position in the team and all players believe that if you do well in pre-season, then the manager will give you an opportunity."
South African fans will get to see one of the stars of the future when United will likely hand a debut to young England Under-18 left-back Tyler Blackett against AmaZulu.
Blackett will fill in for France international Evra, who has been given an extended break due to his commitments at the 2012 European Championships and will only join the tour later on in the Asian leg.
The Red Devils are short of left-back options, which is why they are trying to sign Everton and England star Leighton Baines. But Blackett is highly rated by Ferguson and should be given his first-team debut against Usuthu.
- Man United take on AmaZulu at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Wednesday and Ajax Cape Town at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.