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Page last updated at 17:34 GMT, Friday, 26 December 2008

Man Utd hit by Ferdinand lay-off

Rio Ferdinand
Ferdinand has struggled with back trouble in the past

Rio Ferdinand will be out for up to 10 days after sustaining a back injury in Manchester United's 1-0 win at Stoke.

Ferdinand pulled up in the warm-up and will now miss Monday's match against Middlesbrough at Old Trafford.

"Rio suffered a back spasm. He has done it a few times this year. We have got to get to the bottom of the problem," said United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

Ferguson hailed Jonny Evans, the 20-year-old who replaced Ferdinand in the starting line-up, as "outstanding".

Ferguson said: "We are fortunate to have such a talented boy to call on.

"At 20 he shows such maturity. He reads the game well, he uses the ball well and his pace is good. He has all the attributes of a top player."

Mouth of the South
The Manchester United boss also paid tribute to Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov, who set up the Carlos Tevez goal which separated the visitors from 10-man Stoke following Andy Wilkinson's dismissal.

"You start to worry a bit as the second half looked a bit of a stalemate," said Ferguson.

"Then Dimitar showed great balance and turned the defender brilliantly before playing the ball across to Carlos to finish it off. We were delighted about that."

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see also
Stoke 0-1 Man Utd
26 Dec 08 |  Premier League
Live text - Premier League
26 Dec 08 |  Premier League
Boxing Day football photos
26 Dec 08 |  Football
Rio advises Evans to be patient
11 Nov 08 |  Internationals

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