Nemanja Vidic, the Manchester United defender, has spoken for the first time to deny persistent rumours that he wants to leave the English champions. The Serbian centre-back has not played for United this year due to a niggling calf injury but some newspapers in England and Serbia suggested he had fallen out with his manager Alex Ferguson ahead of United's FA Cup tie with Leeds United in January.
"I have never had a conflict of any kind with Sir Alex Ferguson and rife speculation that I want to leave United is completely untrue," Vidic told the Belgrade daily Vecernje Novosti. "I have a contract until the summer of 2012 and I have every intention of seeing it through to the very last day. United have made me the player I am today and there is no substance whatsoever in rumours that I have been looking for a move away to either Real Madrid or AC Milan."
Vidic missed United's 3-2 win at Milan in the Champions League on Tuesday but hopes to be fit for the return leg at Old Trafford on March 10. "I can't wait to get back on the pitch and although I've had a long lay off, I feel strong and fit again," he added. "I think I will return to action very quickly and hopefully I will be back to my best as soon as I am picked in the starting line-up again. We got a great result at Milan but we have to raise our game for the return leg and I am sure we can."
Elsewhere in the Premier League, Wolves have been given a suspended £25,000 (Dh144,000) fine by the Premier League for fielding a weakened team against United in December. Mick McCarthy, the Wolves manager, made 10 changes to the team who defeated Tottenham three days earlier and, after a 3-0 loss at Old Trafford, recalled nine of them for the next game against Burnley, which they won 2-0.
Wolves said they had been surprised to be charged but accepted the decision. "We are obviously disappointed but we respect the ruling, especially as they have now used our case as a clear warning to all other clubs, some of whom have made similar changes to their teams in the past, that this is not acceptable in the future," Jez Moxey, the Wolves chief executive, said in a statement on the club's website. "This ruling may now lead to a wider discussion regarding the issue of squad rotation and the Premier League's rules."
Cash-strapped Portsmouth have asked the Premier League for permission to sell players outside the transfer window in order to be able to pay their bills. However, the move will depend on their request being sanctioned by the English Football Association and Fifa as well as the Premier League. * With agencies