Fergie counting on Tevez
Manchester United - Sir Alex Ferguson is counting on Carlos Tevez recovering quickly from the exhaustion, jet-lag and shock he will have suffered after playing in Argentina's 6-1 defeat in Bolivia in midweek.
With Wayne Rooney suspended and Dimitar Berbatov ruled out by injury, Tevez is the only senior striker available to Ferguson as he prepares for Sunday's pivotal Premier League clash with Aston Villa.
United go into the match facing the possibility of losing a third consecutive Premiership game for the first time since December 2001.
To further complicate Ferguson's preparations, Tevez was only due to arrive back in Manchester on Friday evening having played an exhausting 90 minutes at high altitude.
Should the Argentinian show any ill effects from his gruelling match and journey, Ferguson admits he would have a major headache.
"First of all, we are waiting on Tevez coming back from Mars, I think he was playing," said Ferguson. "What a journey he has had!
"The extra day's rest, playing Sunday, helps in that respect but we are unsure of our strikers, that is the biggest worry we have because of Berbatov's injury and Rooney's suspension.
"Hopefully, if Tevez is okay, that gives us one striker and then we have to choose someone else."
Ferguson's decision to delay the Villa game 24 hours has proved a fortunate one, especially given the fact that midfielder Anderson suffered a knee injury while on international duty with Brazil.
The timing of the game, on Sunday afternoon, now means United must face Porto in the Champions' League quarter-final on Tuesday with just 48 hours rest but, at this point, the gamble appears justified.
"It's straightforward," said Ferguson. "If we had to play Saturday, we had to play at lunchtime which was crazy. As usual, TV doesn't do us any favours. We have spoken time and time again and there is nothing you can do about it.
"There was no way we were playing Saturday lunchtime, especially after internationals and, as it turned out, three players suspended. If we had picked up more injuries in the internationals, we would have been in a difficult position.
"Now, with the extra day's rest, I'm relatively confident we can get a fit team out."
Nemanja Vidic and Paul Scholes are both suspended alongside Rooney, but Ferguson does have the option of including fit-again veteran full-back Gary Neville, who has not started a game since the last day of January.
Regardless of the line-up, Ferguson is looking for the correct response from a team that could have been overtaken by Liverpool at the top of the Premiership by the time they kick-off on Sunday.
"The way I look at it now, we are where we are, a point clear, it doesn't matter how we got there," said Ferguson, comparing the title race to the Grand National, Britain's most popular horse race.
"It's very appropriate that we are talking about the Grand National tomorrow," the Scot said. "You go around there, those 30-odd fences, and you might hit a fence or a horse falls in front of you. There are obstacles and our championship is about obstacles.
"You have a draw, you have a defeat, you play badly and win.
Sometimes, you play great and don't score the goals you should have scored and that's because it's the toughest league in the world.
"But I'm not interested in anyone but Manchester United. We accept the challenge from anywhere, that's what we've done well at this club over the years. It doesn't matter whether it's Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, challenges will always be there for this club."