English Premiership

Fergie brings back Berbatov

2010-09-17 16:06
Dimitar Berbatov (File)

 Manchester - Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov will return to face Liverpool in the Premier League on Sunday after Alex Ferguson's "calculated risk" to rest him and other in-form players backfired.

United made 10 changes from the side that drew 3-3 at Everton last weekend for Tuesday's Champions League match at home to Rangers and paid the price when they were held 0-0.

Berbatov, who has scored three goals in four league matches this season, will be part of what Ferguson sees as the biggest drawcard on the English fixture list.

"He's expressed himself this season very well, he's enjoying his football and he'll play on Sunday," Ferguson told reporters on Friday.

"We took a calculated risk in terms of squad ... and we still had enough big players to get a result (against Rangers)."

Rio Ferdinand could be the only player to keep his place in the back four, with John O'Shea, Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic likely to return after they were rested.

Midfielder Paul Scholes is also expected to start, goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar should be back and Antonio Valencia's long-term absence could give Nani a start on the right wing.

"I may sound like a parrot sometimes because I say this time and time again but this is THE fixture," said Ferguson.

The United-Liverpool derby has often produced pre-match barbs, particularly when Rafa Benitez was at the helm at the Merseyside club, and Ferguson could not resist a little dig.

"It's a different game," he said, comparing it to the Rangers match where his side were stifled in attack.

"I don't think Liverpool will play five at the back. Maybe six!"

Liverpool had more joy than United in resting some of their biggest names for their European match this week, a 4-1 victory over Steaua Bucharest in the Europa League, and manager Roy Hodgson said they needed the break before Sunday's game.

Captain Steven Gerrard should be back and Fernando Torres, who has scored in his last three games against United, is looking for the match that will kickstart a poor season so far.

"He's Fernando Torres, the fact is he's going to have bad games, he's going to have wonder games," Hodgson told a news conference. "Good players remain good players."

Liverpool fans could enjoy the chance to jeer United striker Wayne Rooney, who is expected to be back for his first league match since being left out of the squad to face Everton to avoid abuse from fans over media speculation over his marriage.

Hodgson hopes boos do not act as motivation for Rooney.

"I understand the concern but I can only deal with things that are in my grasp," he said. "Fans winding opponents up and that working against you is certainly out of my control so I'll just have to wait and see what happens."

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