Central defender Nemanja Vidic was missing from the Manchester United squad that traveled to Malaysia on Thursday afternoon for the first leg of a four-match Far East tour.
Although United have not given a reason for Vidic’s absence, it was reported that the defender was forced to pull out of a World Cup qualifier against the Faroe Islands last month after suffering from an ankle injury in Serbia’s victory over Austria.
With Wes Brown and Gary Neville included in a 22-man party, it is believed that there was no point in risking Vidic, although Sir Alex Ferguson will hope to have the former Spartak Moscow man ready for the start of United’s Premier League title defence against Birmingham on August 16.
Another defender that was missin in the squad was Brazilian full-back Rafael Da Silva, although he too is believed to be suffering with an ankle problem at the back end of last season.
Ferguson’s three new signings, headed by Michael Owen, all boarded the plane bound for Kuala Lumpur, where United will tackle a Malaysia XI on Saturday.