Sir Alex Ferguson has warned England they face "a big problem" playing on an artificial pitch against Russia next week. The Euro 2008 qualifier in the Luzhniki Stadium on Wednesday night will be the first time England have played an international on artificial turf and the Manchester United boss believes Russia will benefit from their experience of the surface.
United have two plastic pitches at their Carrington training ground but Ferguson prefers his players to train on grass because the surfaces play differently. He told the Independent, "There is no problem with safety - on the old [artificial] pitches you used to get a lot of grazes on hips and knees when players went in for challenges, but the surfaces of today are terrific - there's no problem with that.
"The problem they will have is the bounce of the ball, the speed of the ball and, of course, Russia will be far more used to it than English players. That will be a big problem, it's not easy to handle that."
One of United's artificial pitches is outdoors and the other indoors - but the players hardly ever use them. Ferguson added: "In my time here at Carrington we have used the indoor pitch just once - for work on set-pieces."