Sir Alex Ferguson: Rio Ferdinand can handle abuse from fans

Sir Alex Ferguson (left): Backing Ferdinand to handle fans' abuse

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Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson does not believe Rio Ferdinand will be affected by any abuse from fans as a result of his recent withdrawal from the England squad.

The 34-year-old defender was the subject of alleged racial abuse from England supporters during the recent World Cup qualifier from San Marino, which has led anti-racism campaigners FARE to report the Football Association to FIFA.

Ferguson believes the defender is strong enough to cope should he receive similar treatment from the stands while on duty with United.

"If there is criticism out there I don't think it will bother him," said Ferguson.

"In modern society there is always a venting of spleen against someone who displeases them at any particular moment in time. It will blow over quite quickly.

"Most people realise Rio's international career had been in doubt for a while anyway. He hadn't been picked for a few games."

"If there is criticism out there I don't think it will bother him."

Sir Alex Ferguson

Ferdinand cited his training programme as the reason for his England withdrawal and Ferguson defended his player's decision.

"The way our physio and sports science departments had been handling him has been correct," said Ferguson. "That has allowed him to have one of his best seasons. That is why Roy has picked him.

"But there is a way we treat Rio in terms of getting him ready for big matches.

"The programme we have got for him is detailed in the sense of the games he plays in and the type of training he does in the build-up to games.

"We don't play him in every game, as everyone knows. We try to have him ready for the games that really matter."

When asked whether Ferdinand would play for England again, Ferguson replied: "I couldn't tell you. I have not spoken to him about it.

"He has had issues with his back obviously. Age catches us all. There is no question about that. In football you don't grow old without penalties.

"Rio has lost that lightning speed he had five or six years ago. But he has adapted in a different way in the sense of how his game is.

"You have to adjust to the situation and Rio has done that very well."