Sir Alex Ferguson believes that the international break has come at a perfect time for Manchester United as they attempt to regain the Premier League title.
United recorded a nervous 1-0 victory over Bolton on Saturday thanks to a late winner from Bulgarian forward Dimitar Berbatov at Old Trafford, opening a five-point lead over Arsenal at the top of the table.
They also achieved the win without 10 injured or suspended first team players and having lost defender Jonny Evans to a 75th minute sending off for an horrendous studs-up tackle on Bolton midfielder Stuart Holden.
But United now have two weeks rest for the international period and Ferguson hopes to have a number of key players available by the time United resume their season at West Ham next month.
“It is a great lead,” said United manager Ferguson. “They have a game in hand but we’ve got the points so we don’t need to worry about that. Once we start getting players back from injury, we will have a great chance.
“Park Ji-Sung, Nemanja Vidic, Darren Fletcher, hopefully, they will be back and bit by bit we will hopefully get them all together.”
To add to United’s injury problems, Wes Brown was forced to come off at half-time with an unspecified problem, while Evans will now face a three-match suspension for his automatic red card.
United showed their nerves against a determined Bolton team and only seemed to raise their game once they were reduced to 10 men, a point conceded by Ferguson.
“I think the fans were magnificent, the sending off galvanised us and the fans got us over the line,” he said. “We’ve had five massive games the last couple of weeks, it’s been a hell of a programme, and the lads deserve praise for that.
“It wasn’t a 100 per cent top performance but we never gave in. That’s the fantastic character of this club. There is no other club in the country that has got that character.
“We’re fantastic at getting something out of a dead situation, a lost situation. We did that today, full marks to them.”
Ferguson had no complaints about the dismissal of Evans and Bolton manager Owen Coyle revealed the extent of the injury although, in the immediate aftermath of the game, the true damage was still unknown.
“I think the referee sent him off because the player had a bad injury,” he said. “I don’t think it was a malicious tackle. The two went for the same ball, his boot was raised off the ground so we cannot have a complaint about the sending off.
“Once you raise your foot, you are putting yourself in a dangerous area.”
Coyle added: “We don’t know yet but we just hope it isn’t broken or damage to ligaments.
“If there was any malice in it, I don’t know. But the referee was well placed. The knee was open, one or two of our players could see everything inside it. That was the concern.”
Ferguson watched the game from an unfamiliar seat in the directors’ box as he started a five-match suspension for his recent critical comments about referee Martin Atkinson after the league defeat at Chelsea.
However, he was clearly not inconvenienced as he made adjustments throughout the game.
“It was no problem,” added Ferguson. “I had a telephone there!”