Tag Archives: problems

Arsene Wenger will seeks talks with Roy Hodgson over Jack Wilshere"s use in England"s end-of-season friendlies

EXCLUSIVE: Wenger's friendly fire! Arsenal boss wants showdown talks with England manager Hodgson over Wilshere's use

By
Sami Mokbel

PUBLISHED:

23:00 GMT, 20 March 2013

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UPDATED:

02:00 GMT, 21 March 2013

Arsene Wenger will seek talks with England manager Roy Hodgson over his use of Jack Wilshere during the end-of-season internationals.

England face the Republic of Ireland on May 29 – 10 days after Arsenal’s final game of the season against Newcastle – before travelling to Rio de Janeiro to face Brazil on June 6.

Both games are friendlies and Arsenal manager Wenger is keen to liaise with Hodgson and the FA to establish a clear plan of how his midfielder should be utilised.

Sidelined: Jack Wilshere hasn't played since suffering an ankle knock in the north London derby

Sidelined: Jack Wilshere hasn't played since suffering an ankle knock in the north London derby

Engine: Wilshere is already a key man for England despite playing for the national side just seven times

Engine: Wilshere is already a key man for England despite playing for the national side just seven times

Wenger was disappointed Wilshere played the full 90 minutes of the 2-1 friendly win over Brazil in February and, understandably, wants to avoid a similar scenario during the summer internationals.

Despite 17 months out with foot and ankle problems, Wilshere has been Arsenal’s best performer this season but Wenger wants Hodgson to go easy during the end-of-season international period, given Wilshere will have featured in what is likely to be an intense race for a top-four spot.

Wenger also wants Wilshere to have maximum rest ahead of next season, which looks set to be one of the most important in the Frenchman’s long tenure at Arsenal.

Wilshere is already showing signs of this season catching up with him. He is currently on the sidelines with an ankle injury picked up in the 2-1 defeat by Tottenham on March 3.

Wenger sent him on a mid-season break to Dubai to aid his recovery from the injury but the trip was also designed to recharge his batteries after a tiring 28-game season. Arsenal hope Wilshere will be able to return to first-team action for the visit of Reading on March 30 but it is more likely the 21-year-old will make his return against West Bromwich Albion on April 6 or Norwich seven days later.

Wenger faces more problems after Wojciech Szczesny’s father accused the manager of making his son a scapegoat and claimed Arsenal ‘played’ with the keeper’s fitness last season.

Szczesny, 22, was dropped for Arsenal’s
Champions League match against Bayern Munich last week after Wenger said
he had been mentally affected by his form, casting doubt over his
future.

Talks: Arsene Wenger will seek clarification from Roy Hodgson on Wilshere's role in friendlies

Talks: Arsene Wenger will seek clarification from Roy Hodgson on Wilshere's role in friendlies

Benched: Wojciech Szczesny's (right) dad Maciej criticised the Arsenal boss

Benched: Wojciech Szczesny's (right) dad Maciej criticised the Arsenal boss

His father, Maciej, who also played for Poland, told Polish newspaper Przeglad Sportowy: ‘Wenger already started to look for the scapegoat. It is not the way the boss should behave. Wojciech has had two serious injuries. He played with one in April and May (last year). He shouldn’t have agreed to play that time, but the coach insisted.

‘Wenger was playing with the young man’s good health and Wojciech agreed foolishly.

‘In my opinion Mr Wenger messed up a lot in April and May.

‘Then in August there was a foot (ankle) injury, after which he played almost instantly. After seven weeks out Wojciech trained for just seven days and played. How on earth can he be on his highest form’

Szczesny Snr added: ‘This last period has not been successful, however, I think my son can be the No 1 goalkeeper over 10 years. He just needs to come back to form.’

VIDEO: Interview with Arsenal and England star Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Rafael Nadal inspired by Ronaldo

Nadal takes inspiration from Ronaldo after Brazil legend watches Rafa's winning return

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

16:52 GMT, 18 February 2013

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UPDATED:

16:52 GMT, 18 February 2013

Rafael Nadal is drawing inspiration from Brazilian football great Ronaldo to continue his successful return from injury.

With Ronaldo watching, Nadal took an important step on Sunday by winning the Brazil Open for his first title after a seven-month layoff to treat his left knee. Now he wants to repeat the Brazilian’s successful story of recovery from much more serious injuries.

Nadal said Ronaldo is “an example” to be followed because of his determination to rebound from a series of knee injuries that threatened his career.

Fan: Former footballer Ronaldo (left) watched Rafael Nadal with Brazilian mixed martial artist Anderson Silva

Fan: Former footballer Ronaldo (left) watched Rafael Nadal with Brazilian mixed martial artist Anderson Silva

Despite winning again, the Spaniard is still bothered by his knee and said he is far from fully recovered, although he hopes the victory in front of Ronaldo will mark a new beginning in his career.

'Ronaldo is an example to a lot of people because of all that he was able to achieve despite what he had to go through with all the knee problems in his career,' Nadal said. 'He is definitely an example to me. He’s an example of determination and hard work.'

Ronaldo ended his career as one of the world’s top strikers after overcoming three serious knee operations. The former Barcelona, Real Madrid, Inter Milan and AC Milan striker won two World Cups with Brazil and remains the tournament’s all-time leading scorer with 15 goals.

Nadal said he has always admired Ronaldo, and as a kid proudly took a photo with the striker when he played for Barcelona in the late 1990s.

'He was unstoppable, one of the best players of all time despite all the bad luck he had with the knee,' Nadal said.

The Spaniard was out of action since last year because a torn and inflamed tendon in his knee, an injury that he says is improving but still bothers him from time to time. He downplayed his difficulties compared to Ronaldo’s, but said he now has a better understanding of what the Brazilian had to go through.

'I didn’t have so many problems, I never needed the surgeries,' Nadal said. 'But I can imagine how hard it must have been for Ronaldo with the complicated surgeries that he had to go through.'

Taste of victory: Nadal bites the trophy of the Brazil Open after beating David Nalbandian

Taste of victory: Nadal bites the trophy of the Brazil Open after beating David Nalbandian

Nadal beat former world No. 3 David Nalbandian of Argentina 6-2, 6-3 in Brazil on Sunday, winning his 51st career title and first since beating Novak Djokovic to lift his seventh Roland Garros trophy last June.

The Brazil Open was Nadal’s second tournament since his return. He played at the VTR Open in Chile the week before, losing the singles and doubles final. The final in Brazil was only his eighth singles match since the comeback. He withdrew from the doubles in Sao Paulo to rest his knee for the singles tournament.

Nadal looked far from his best in his first two tournaments and said that the knee injury still limited him physically.

'There are days that the knee still hurts and it’s very complicated,' he said. 'I need some time to keep improving and become more competitive again. Let’s see how it goes.'

Road to recovery: Nadal found some form in Sao Paulo yesterday

Road to recovery: Nadal found some form in Sao Paulo yesterday

The 11-time Grand Slam champion admitted that the level of the competition in Brazil was not as high as in other tournaments but said that it wasn’t bad either, giving him the perfect opportunity to put his knee to test.

Nadal will play another clay-court tournament in Mexico later this month and the goal is to be fully fit again by the time Roland Garros arrives in May, although his future schedule will depend on how the knee holds up. He had intended to play in Indian Wells in March, but on Sunday said that he won’t know whether he will make it until closer to the tournament.

'We are thinking day-to-day, week-to-week,' the 26-year-old Nadal said. 'We’ll see how I feel before making a decision on where I’ll be playing in the near future, it will depend on how the knee improves.'

Michu bargain of the century? Football"s best ever buys

Is Michu the bargain of the century Sportsmail gives its verdict on the players to rival him for the title

PUBLISHED:

14:57 GMT, 10 January 2013

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UPDATED:

16:51 GMT, 10 January 2013

His manager Michael Laudrup called him the ‘bargain of the season’ but Gary Lineker has hailed Swansea star Michu as the ‘bargain of the century’.

The Spaniard has been the surprise star of the Premier League since his 2.2million move from Rayo Vallecano.

Bargain buy: Michu has had a big impact for Swansea this season following his 2.2m summer move

Bargain buy: Michu has had a big impact for Swansea this season following his 2.2m summer move

MICHU'S GOAL CELEBRATION

Michu’s goal celebration, in which he ‘turns up the volume’ next to his ear, has been the talk of Swansea since he moved to Wales in the summer. He first did the action to Granada fans to let them know he couldn’t hear them after he scored for Celta Vigo. Cheeky.

He scored 15 goals for the Spanish strugglers from midfield last season, helping them survive on the last day of the season.

This season he has already scored 13 for Swansea in the Premier League — does it make him the bargain of the century

We asked our team of writers to pick their best bargain of this century. Who is your pick Let us know by leaving a comment below.

Finding the net: Michu scored the opening goal in Swansea's Capital One Cup victory over Chelsea

Finding the net: Michu scored the opening goal in Swansea's Capital One Cup victory over Chelsea

MATT BARLOW
Robin van Persie (Feyenoord to Arsenal, 2.75m, 2004)

Arsenal got him for 2.75million. Once he got over his injuries and attitude problems he proved to be genuine world-class talent. Sold for nearly 10 times as much and still getting better.

Doing the business: Robin van Persie signed for Arsenal from Feyenoord

Doing the business: Robin van Persie signed for Arsenal from Feyenoord

ALEX KAY
Lionel Messi (Newell's Old Boys to Barcelona, Free, 2000)

The best player in the world… for almost nothing. So impressed were Barcelona with a young Lionel Messi they offered him a contract on a paper napkin and offered to pay for the boy’s medical bills if he moved from Argentina. The 11-year-old had been diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency. Luckily for Barca, he turned out all right.

Simply the best: Lionel Messi joined Barcelona for free as a teenager

Simply the best: Lionel Messi joined Barcelona for free as a teenager

SAMI MOKBEL
Edwin van der Sar (Fulham to Manchester United, 2m, 2005)

Sir Alex Ferguson fired plenty of blanks in his attempts to replace Peter Schmeichel. Massimo Taibi and Mark Bosnich, for instance, just could not cut the mustard. Enter Van der Sar. A colossus for United in his six years at Old Trafford.

Safe hands: Edwin van der Sar joined Manchester United late in his career but had a big impact at Old Trafford

Safe hands: Edwin van der Sar joined Manchester United late in his career but had a big impact at Old Trafford

JOHN EDWARDS
Cristiano Ronaldo (Sporting Lisbon to Manchester United, 12.2m, 2003)

It’s probably fair to describe Sir Alex Ferguson’s transfer dealings that summer as varied, until he struck gold with Ronaldo. Up to then, he had recruited David Bellion, Eric Djemba-Djemba, Tim Howard and Kleberson. Howard apart, it was hardly an array of new talent destined to take the Barclays Premier League by storm. Ronaldo, on the other hand, drew comparisons with some of the all-time greats to don a United shirt and had completed a clean sweep of club and individual honours by the time he joined Real Madrid for 80million on July 1, 2009. If we are analysing value, a profit of 68m surely takes some beating.

Making his mark: Cristiano Ronaldo would become the best player in the Premier League

Making his mark: Cristiano Ronaldo would become the best player in the Premier League

SAM CUNNINGHAM
Cristiano Ronaldo (Sporting Lisbon to Manchester United, 12.2m, 2003)

Six seasons at the club returned three consecutive league titles, an FA Cup, two League Cups, one Community Shield, a Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup. So that cost them roughly 2m per season, or 1.4m per trophy. Then they made 68m profit on him. Bargain.

LAURIE WHITWELL
Javier Hernandez (Guadalajara to Manchester United, 7m, 2010)

A relative unknown when Sir Alex Ferguson signed him before the 2010 World Cup. A handful of sparkling displays in South Africa later and 7m already looked a snip. Hernandez stormed the Premier League in his debut season, scoring 20 goals in all competitions as United won the title and made the Champions League final. His place came under threat last term but he has come again, netting 12 times this season despite the arrival of Robin van Persie meaning limited game time. A firebox character and a joy to watch. United can depend on him from the start or from the bench.

Super sub: Javier Hernandez hit the ground running following his move to Manchester United

Super sub: Javier Hernandez hit the ground running following his move to Manchester United

JAMES ANDREW
Louis Saha (Metz to Fulham, 2.1m, 2000)

When Jean Tigana arrived at Fulham in 2000 one of the first things he did was sell Geoff Horsfield to Birmingham for 2.25m and then bought Saha for 2.1m. It proved to be a masterstroke as the Frenchman went on to score 27 goals in Division One (now the Championship) and fire Fulham into the Premier League. While his years in the top flight were blighted by injury he rediscovered his goalscoring touch again in 2003-04 when he netted 15 goals in 22 games before a 12.4m move to Manchester United. A 10m profit and Premier League football is not a bad deal.

Saha so good: Louis Saha helped gain Fulham promotion to the Premier League in 2001

Saha so good: Louis Saha helped gain Fulham promotion to the Premier League in 2001

MIKE ANSTEAD

Vincent Kompany (Hamburg to Man City, 6m, 2008)

In among all Manchester City's eye-watering signings, there is Vincent Kompany. An exceptional defender, a leader on and off the pitch and an all-round good guy. Oh, and he became the first City captain to lift the league trophy in 44 years. Not bad for 6million…

Flying start: Vincent Kompany takes on the FC Copenhagen defence in a 2009 UEFA Cup tie

Flying start: Vincent Kompany takes on the FC Copenhagen defence in a 2009 UEFA Cup tie

MARK ALFORD
Gareth Bale (Southampton to Tottenham, 7m, 2007)

Shrewd business by Tottenham – no not selling Berbatov to United for 30milllion – but buying Gareth Bale for an initial 5m fee from Southampton in 2007. That figure was set to rise to 10m depending on honours and appearances but Spurs struck another shrewd deal with the Saints, agreeing an early settlement so the total bill was 7m. The Welsh wizard is coveted by the world’s finest football clubs now and it’ll take 50m to prise him away from White Hart Lane. Kerrching.

Spur of the moment: A youthful Gareth Bale scoring for Tottenham against Middlesbrough

Spur of the moment: A youthful Gareth Bale scoring for Tottenham against Middlesbrough

PHIL GRADWELL
Jay Jay Okocha (PSG to Bolton, free, 2002)

So good they named him twice – and he didn’t cost a penny. Okocha’s brilliance kept Bolton in the Premier League in 2003 and he scored a stupendous free-kick to help them to the Carling Cup final in 2004. Was made club captain by Sam Allardyce and dazzled the Reebok with his tricks, the best of which was an outrageous flick over Ray Parlour’s head.

Scorcher: Darren Anderton looks on in awe as Jay Jay Okocha unleashes a shot

Scorcher: Darren Anderton looks on in awe as Jay Jay Okocha unleashes a shot

CHRIS CUTMORE
Joe Hart (Shrewsbury to Man City, 100,000*, 2006)

Every great team needs a huge presence between the sticks – think Banks, Schmeichel or Casillas – and it cannot be questioned that Hart was a major force behind City’s Premier League title triumph last season. Roberto Mancini’s men saw off local rivals United on goal difference alone and Hart marshalled by far the stingiest defence in the league. His mistakes this season have shocked all the more because of his consistent brilliance previously. But don’t expect the dip in form to last long, or Hart’s Premier League medal to be his last.

*according to City deputy chairman John Wardle

Young at Hart: Joe joined Man City from Shrewsbury for the bargain price of 100,000 in 2006

Young at Hart: Joe joined Man City from Shrewsbury for a bargain 100,000 in 2006

LUKE BENEDICT
Fernando Torres (Atletico Madrid to Liverpool, 21m, 2007)

To get 65 goals out of a player and then make a near 30million profit is pretty good business. In fact, it surely ranks as the bargain of the century. Aged 23, El Nino took a pay cut to move to Liverpool for 21m from Atletico Madrid. He scored more than 60 goals in a 102 games. Then Chelsea infamously paid 50m for him and he’s scored only 26 in his first 100 games at Stamford Bridge. That’s an awful lot of profit for a striker who can hardly score.

Hit the ground running: Fernando Torres scores one of his first goals in Liverpool colours

Hit the ground running: Fernando Torres scores one of his first goals in Liverpool colours

Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Rio Ferdinand set for Manchester United exit

End of an era! Scholes, Giggs and Ferdinand heading for Manchester United exit

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UPDATED:

22:04 GMT, 20 December 2012

Paul Scholes plans to retire once and for all at the end of this season as Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson prepares for another summer shake-up at Old Trafford.

United midfielder Scholes has told friends that he intends to bow out in May and that this time he will not be back.

Ferguson is also facing up to the probability that another veteran, Ryan Giggs, will leave his one and only club this summer, and the manager is aware that defender Rio Ferdinand has yet to indicate publicly whether he wishes to extend his contract.

Trio: Giggs, Scholes and Feridnand could leave Old Trafford at the end of the season

Trio: Giggs, Scholes and Feridnand could leave Old Trafford at the end of the season

With captain Nemanja Vidic also struggling of late with knee problems, Ferguson has already started to look at ways of freshening up his squad.

Recently, for example, Ferguson sent scouts to watch 15million-rated Argentinian defender Ezequiel Garay play for Portuguese club Benfica in games against Sporting Lisbon and Olhanense.

He has also been looking closely at Molde's Norwegian international centre back Vegard Forren.

Head boy: Garay (left) has been watched by Old Trafford scouts

Head boy: Garay (left) has been watched by Old Trafford scouts

Formerly of Real Madrid, Garay has to be sold by Benfica next summer since they are struggling to pay his wages. His former club in Spain are entitled to half of whatever fee he is sold for.

Garay has 11 caps for his country and has also been tracked by Juventus.

As for Scholes, he quit the game at the end of the 2010-11 season but famously returned to United in January of this year.

He was later persuaded by Ferguson to stay on for this season as well and has played 13 times so far.

Moving on: Scholes is poised to retire for a second time

Moving on: Scholes is poised to retire for a second time

However, the 38-year-old believes that his influence on the field is waning and has said privately in recent weeks that he may have given as much as he can.

It remains to be seen if Ferguson attempts to persuade one of his most trusted players to soldier on for another season.

Welshman Giggs is a year older than Scholes and is also on a one-year contract. He has played only eight times in the Barclays Premier League this season and has also seen his influence on the field drop off significantly in recent months.

Rio Ferdinand

Ryan Giggs

Suit you, sir: Rio Ferdinand and Ryan Giggs could call time on their United careers

Giggs has not made his own mind up yet but said recently: 'When I do finish playing, I'll try to find the next best thing. Management does interest me. The nearer I get to finishing, the more I think about it. All I can do is prepare myself as best I can for when I do finish.

'I've been doing my coaching courses with Nev (Gary Neville) – levels one, two, A-Licence. We're starting the Pro-Licence next year.'

Giggs hopes to compete in a couple of triathlons and Scholes may be handed a coaching role at Old Trafford.

Roy Hodgson takes presents to children at Great Ormond Street Hospital

Roy Hodgson brings a little Christmas magic to children at Great Ormond Street Hospital

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UPDATED:

13:58 GMT, 19 December 2012

England manager Roy Hodgson made a trip to Great Ormond Street Hospital on Tuesday, alongside coaches Gary Neville and Ray Lewington, to hand out presents from the FA.

The trio visited the Eagle ward, where children are treated for complex problems relating to their kidneys, as well as the Bear Ward, which provides inpatient care for those with heart problems.

The gifts they dispensed to those on the ward included England goodie-bags, while each ward also received a signed England shirt.

England manager Roy Hodgson visits Great Ormond Street Hospital

The England manager said it was saddening to see children struck down by such serious illnesses

Hodgson was quick to praise the efforts of those working at the hospital and parents visiting it.

‘What we're doing here is of very little importance in comparison to the work that the nurses and doctors are doing here and in comparison to what the parents are doing here too,’ he said.

‘In every ward and bedroom we have been in there has been a sick child with mothers, fathers and grandparents dedicating their time to the child and it's a very saddening experience to see people who have been struck down by quite serious kidney or heart conditions.

‘It's a good occasion for us in a sense that if we can help or cheer them up in any way then it's something we can feel happy to have done.

‘At the same time, you have a feeling of powerlessness. Apart from a few cheery words and smiles, handshakes or pats on the head, you do realise that you are powerless and the only people who can really help are the nurses and the doctors.’

England manager Roy Hodgson visits Great Ormond Street Hospital

Hodgson handed out Christmas presents along with Gary Neville and Ray Lewington

England manager Roy Hodgson visits Great Ormond Street Hospital

The trio visited the Eagle and Bear wards, and gave each a signed England shirt

He was also impressed with the
quality of care in the newly built wards, which provide patients and
families with more privacy and comfort.

They were opened earlier this year in the Morgan Stanley Clinical Building.

‘The new facilities are very
impressive and I'm glad that there are patrons about like Morgan Stanley
who can put a lot of money into this and ensure that the facilities are
here when they are needed,’ said the England manager.

England manager Roy Hodgson visits Great Ormond Street Hospital

Presents intended for the children were stolen from the hospital this week, but visits like these have helped to cheer the children up

The renowned hospital plays host to over 200,000 patient visits per year.

In their efforts to maintain the facilities and purchase the most up-to-date equipment and medication, as well as funding research, their charity raises 50million a year.

Great Ormond Street has the broadest
range of children’s healthcare specialists in the UK and gives hope to
children who are suffering from the rarest and most complex conditions.

Those at the hospital were appalled this week at the discovery that someone had stolen gifts intended for the children.

Fortunately the gifts were soon replaced by a steady stream of generous well-wishers.

Dylan Hartley to face a disciplinary hearing after citing for striking Rory Best

Hartley's discipline problems back in the spotlight after citing for striking Ulster's Best in cup defeat

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UPDATED:

00:02 GMT, 11 December 2012

Dylan Hartley is in hot water again, this time for striking rival hooker Rory Best in Friday’s Heineken Cup clash between Northampton and Ulster.

The England hooker, who has served lengthy bans for gouging and biting offences in his turbulent career, is set to face a disciplinary hearing this week after he was cited by French match commissioner Jean-Claude Legendre.

This latest charge is not as serious but his poor disciplinary record might well lengthen his ban if he is found guilty. The International Rugby Board recommends a suspension of from two to eight weeks, depending on the severity of the incident.

Trouble ahead: Dylan Hartley (second left) has been cited for an incident during Morthampton's 25-6 defeat to Ulster in the Heineken Cup on Friday

Trouble ahead: Dylan Hartley (second left) has been cited for an incident during Morthampton's 25-6 defeat to Ulster in the Heineken Cup on Friday

Immediately after Northampton had lost
25-6 to Ulster, Hartley denied that he had been involved in any
incident. But TV pictures highlighted how the pair enveloped each other
after Best had tackled Hartley in the 64th minute.

The flare-up ended when the Northampton player lashed out at the Ireland star, who was not hurt.

Hartley missed England’s autumn games
because of a knee injury and only returned to action two weeks ago. The
injury followed his eight-week suspension last April after he was found
guilty of biting Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris on the arm in England’s
Six Nations win.

Hartley, 26, has been backed by
England forwards coach Graham Rowntree, who said the hooker had worked
hard to improve his discipline following a 26-week ban for a gouging
offence against Wasps players James Haskell and Jonny O’Connor in April
2007.

Alex Ferguson backs Manchester United to beat City despite injuries

Ferguson backs depleted United to beat City despite growing injury list

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UPDATED:

15:11 GMT, 8 December 2012

Sir Alex Ferguson insists he has the numbers to cope ahead of the first Manchester derby of the season.

The Manchester United boss has confirmed Anderson, Nani and Antonio Valencia will miss the Etihad Stadium encounter.

In addition, Ferguson has claimed the game will come too soon for Japan forward Shinji Kagawa and that skipper Nemanja Vidic is unwilling to risk another setback after spending virtually 12 months on the sidelines with major knee problems.

Out: Nemanja Vidic remains on the sidelines through injury

Out: Nemanja Vidic remains on the sidelines through injury

Yet Ferguson does not view the absences as a handicap, more of a predictable inconvenience ahead of a big game.

'I know we have some injury problems but we are not short of a squad,' Ferguson told MUTV.

'I have plenty of experience to bring in. I rested Darren Fletcher against Cluj on Wednesday and just brought him on for the last 10 minutes.

'Michael Carrick will be back in. I also have Ashley Young, Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez.

'That is what big squads allow you to do.

'You don't have every player every week. Our supporters must recognise that.

'Over the years we have had injury situations. Every club gets them.

'Normally you work on 10 per cent of your squad being out every week with some sort of injury.

'That is the situation we are in at the moment but it is not desperate by any means.'

Preparation: United train ahead of the first Manchester derby of the season

Preparation: United train ahead of the first Manchester derby of the season

The Vidic situation is an interesting one.

Ferguson has repeatedly stated the Serbian's desire not to push himself.

However, he is training and his presence could prove to be the answer as Ferguson tries to find a solution for his side's defensive frailties that risk being exposed by a City outing boasting some obvious dangers in the air, not least Vincent Kompany, who scored the winner last season from the kind of set piece United are having nightmares with.

In addition, with Aleksandar Kolarov ruled out and Gael Clichy doubtful, Antonio Valencia could be a potent weapon, with both Gary Neville and Bryan Robson pointing out in the build-up that the South American's absence could have a negative effect on the outcome from a United perspective.

And for the Red Devils, victory is important, not only to open up a six-point lead on the most obvious threat to their Premier League title hopes, but to end a cycle of depressing results against their neighbours.

Main man: Alex Ferguson will be looking for Robin Van Persie to fire his side

Main man: Alex Ferguson will be looking for Robin Van Persie to fire his side

'The fact City have emerged over the last couple of years, and won the league last season, you know they are going to be our main competitors, so a positive result there would be a big boost,' said Ferguson.

And it does seem, that whilst Roberto Mancini is a very different character to Ferguson, he has managed to inject City with the same streak that has made United so hard to beat down the years.

'They are playing similarly to last year,' said Ferguson.

'Early season last year they did very well. But as the season progressed they were in the same place they are now.

'They are still scoring late goals, which is a strong trait if you are going to win a championship.

'It shows you that they are not going to give in.

'They are dangerous in the last few minutes of matches, especially Edin Dzeko, when they bring him on, so they have certain traits that are easily identifiable.'

Ali Carter has UK Championship title in his sights after beating Mark Joyce

Ali has diet for success: Carter has his eyes on UK Championship title

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UPDATED:

00:45 GMT, 5 December 2012

Ali Carter reached the World Championship final in May on a diet fuelled by carrot juice, but curry and beer could carry the Crohn's disease sufferer to UK glory in York.

The 33-year-old Essex man has been struggling to stay on top of his condition for the last decade, and has recently ditched pills due to the fear they would cause him long-term health problems.

However, Carter has no problem sinking pints, providing they are low in wheat and gluten, and mild curries go down a treat with the two-time Crucible runner-up.

Going through: Ali Carter on his way to victory over Mark Joyce

Going through: Ali Carter on his way to victory over Mark Joyce

Now he has the williamhill.com UK Championship title in his sights after knocking out world No 1 Judd Trump's conqueror Mark Joyce 6-2.

Former world champion Shaun Murphy, in-form Basildon potter Stuart Bingham and Welshman Matthew Stevens were also winners at the Barbican Centre as the quarter-final line-up began to take shape.

Going by the wayside and out of the tournament were a despondent Graeme Dott and his fellow Scot Stephen Maguire, along with Marco Fu.

With a curry house just over the road from the tournament venue, Carter, a trim cueman who is also a keep-fit fanatic, does not need to look hard for a curry fix.

Inspired by Peter Ebdon, who has committed to a strict vegan diet in recent seasons, Carter downed glass after glass of carrot juice in Sheffield this year, and reported it had a hugely positive impact on his well-being.

Not going to plan: Mark Joyce looks on as he goes out to Carter

Not going to plan: Mark Joyce looks on as he goes out to Carter

'But I wouldn't necessarily go out and buy myself some carrots and stick it in a juicer,' Carter said. “It was just something Peter was doing, I was part of it and we were all having a laugh and it was good.

'I've stopped red meat, which I like, dairy, wheat and gluten. When I'm at home I eat well, salads and fish. I eat curries if they're not too spicy and not too much cream, but it's just a nightmare.

'A curry and a lager, yeah. But I try to get in the gym and keep myself trim. I don't live on curry and lager, believe it or not.'

Such an indulgence would make Carter sound like a caricature of an old-school snooker player, yet life on a busy sporting tour inevitably means he spends much of his year living out of a suitcase and eating in restaurants.

It makes dealing with Crohn's disease, which also afflicts Manchester United and Scotland midfielder Darren Fletcher and causes inflammation of the bowels, particularly difficult.

Carter thought about retiring a year ago, and said after seeing off Joyce: “I don't feel that well presently.

Eyes on the ball: Carter on his way to victory

Eyes on the ball: Carter on his way to victory

'I'm looking forward to better days to come with my stomach.'

In the quarter-finals, Carter will tackle Bingham, who was terrific in seeing off Maguire 6-4 this evening, firstly going 4-2 ahead before being hauled back to 4-4 and then responding with a break of 120 followed by a match-clinching 54.

Bingham, due to marry fiancee Michelle at the end of the season, has taken the Australian Open and Premier League titles this year and amassed over 150,000 in prize money.

This is an outstanding opportunity to land silverware in one of snooker's premier events, and Bingham said: 'A lot of my success has been overseas and to do it in the UK is massive.

'I'm very happy with my game. I came up against a really good opponent today and came through. I'm over the moon with the result.'

Stevens was also a 6-4 winner, surviving a gruelling match against Hong Kong's Marco Fu.

Stevens, now 35, won the UK title in 2003 but had not reached the quarter-final stage again until now. He will face John Higgins or Mark Davis next.

He said: 'I'll have to play a lot better than that if I'm to go any further.'

Murphy impressed this evening in a 6-2 win over his fellow former world champion Dott.

The 30-year-old world number four had a total clearance of 130 in a victory that sets up a quarter-final against Mark King or 17-year-old Luca Brecel, who knocked out Ricky Walden last night.

Dott was dismayed by his own performance, with the 35-year-old Scot saying: 'I just don't think I'm the same player I was. I don't think there's anyone else in the top 16 that can play as badly as I can play.

'It's not good enough.'

Dott, Crucible champion in 2006, added: 'Hopefully it's not just because of my age. I'd don't know if I've had it. Maybe I'm finished.'

The Larkhall man was quick to stress that did not mean he would be retiring, adding: 'Maybe it's just a bad patch but it doesn't feel that way.'

Jack Wilshere in talks over Arsenal contract – and could be new captain

EXCLUSIVE: Wilshere opens talks over 50,000-a-week Arsenal deal… as Wenger prepares to make him captain

|

UPDATED:

07:42 GMT, 27 November 2012

Jack Wilshere is on course for a bumper new contract as Arsene Wenger starts preparing the midfielder for the Arsenal captaincy.

Sportsmail understands preliminary discussions regarding a deal extension, which will see the 20-year-old net a significant increase on his 50,000-a-week deal, have taken place.

The England star still has two-and-a-half years left to run on that contract but the Arsenal hierarchy are understandably eager to extend it. They do not want any uncertainty over Wilshere’s future.

Perfect 10: Jack Wilshere was honoured by the famous shirt in the summer

Perfect 10: Jack Wilshere was honoured by the famous shirt in the summer

Germany forward Lukas Podolski is understood to be the club’s top earner on 90,000 a week but, while Wilshere’s next offer is unlikely to be on that scale, the pay increase will make him one of the Gunners’ best-paid players.

Wilshere has enjoyed a morale-boosting month after his injury nightmare.

Having missed the whole of last season with ankle, foot and knee problems, he has made a successful return to club football and an instant return to the international game after his call-up to the England squad for the friendly against Sweden two weeks ago.

The midfielder will be buoyed further by Wenger’s plan to make him Arsenal’s next captain. The manager has privately identified him as the long-term successor to skipper Thomas Vermaelen.

Wearing the armband: Thomas Vermaelen (centre) is Arsenal's current skipper

Wearing the armband: Thomas Vermaelen (centre) is Arsenal's current skipper

The Belgium defender is under no immediate danger of losing the armband to Wilshere but a plan is in place to promote the talented playmaker within the next two-and-a-half years.

Having come through the club’s academy system, Wilshere has a deep emotional attachment to Arsenal and Wenger likes that. The manager took a similar decision when he made Cesc Fabregas club captain at the age of 21, while Gunners legend Tony Adams’ 14-year stint as skipper started at the same age.

Wenger hopes the lure of the armband will persuade Wilshere, who was given the club’s famed No 10 shirt in the summer, that his long-term future lies at the Emirates Stadium.

Jack Wilshere opens talks with Arsenal over new contract

EXCLUSIVE: Wilshere opens talks with Arsenal over bumper new deal as Wenger prepares to anoint captain Jack

|

UPDATED:

22:45 GMT, 26 November 2012

Jack Wilshere is on course for a bumper new contract as Arsene Wenger starts preparing the midfielder for the Arsenal captaincy.

Sportsmail understands preliminary discussions regarding a deal extension, which will see the 20-year-old net a significant increase on his 50,000-a-week deal, have taken place.

The England star still has two-and-a-half years left to run on that contract but the Arsenal hierarchy are understandably eager to extend it. They do not want any uncertainty over Wilshere’s future.

Perfect 10: Jack Wilshere was honoured by the famous shirt in the summer

Perfect 10: Jack Wilshere was honoured by the famous shirt in the summer

Germany forward Lukas Podolski is understood to be the club’s top earner on 90,000 a week but, while Wilshere’s next offer is unlikely to be on that scale, the pay increase will make him one of the Gunners’ best-paid players.

Wilshere has enjoyed a morale-boosting month after his injury nightmare.

Having missed the whole of last season with ankle, foot and knee problems, he has made a successful return to club football and an instant return to the international game after his call-up to the England squad for the friendly against Sweden two weeks ago.

The midfielder will be buoyed further by Wenger’s plan to make him Arsenal’s next captain. The manager has privately identified him as the long-term successor to skipper Thomas Vermaelen.

Wearing the armband: Thomas Vermaelen (centre) is Arsenal's current skipper

Wearing the armband: Thomas Vermaelen (centre) is Arsenal's current skipper

The Belgium defender is under no immediate danger of losing the armband to Wilshere but a plan is in place to promote the talented playmaker within the next two-and-a-half years.

Having come through the club’s academy system, Wilshere has a deep emotional attachment to Arsenal and Wenger likes that. The manager took a similar decision when he made Cesc Fabregas club captain at the age of 21, while Gunners legend Tony Adams’ 14-year stint as skipper started at the same age.

Wenger hopes the lure of the armband will persuade Wilshere, who was given the club’s famed No 10 shirt in the summer, that his long-term future lies at the Emirates Stadium.