Football: Rooney Set For United Return, Nani Plays Down Sweep
Posted February 18, 2009on:
MANCHESTER, England : Nani has attempted to put into perspective suggestions Manchester United can make a clean sweep of European and domestic trophies as Wayne Rooney prepares to make his comeback.
Rooney has been out for five weeks with a hamstring injury but the England striker is set to feature in Wednesday’s home game with Fulham at Old Trafford.
Victory over the London side will send Sir Alex Ferguson’s side five points clear at the top of the English Premier League with 13 games remaining.
And with United safely through to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, in the last 16 of the Champions League and looking forward to facing Tottenham Hotspur in the final of the English League Cup on March 1, fans are beginning to talk up their team’s chances of winning the lot.
Ferguson’s side have triumphed in all eight league games since returning from Japan in December, where they were crowned FIFA world club champions.
Yet despite United’s blistering form, Portuguese winger Nani believes it will be exceptionally hard for the Red Devils to win every competition.
“It will be difficult to win everything because you’re not going to play well all the time,” said Nani. “But we are doing well at the moment and hopefully we can keep that going.
“We want to win every competition we’re in and we will do our best to do that,” he added.
Despite scoring in United’s 4-1 FA Cup win over Derby County on Sunday, Nani could be on the bench against Fulham.
Ferguson made seven changes to the side that secured a 1-0 victory away to West Ham the previous weekend but the players that came in, including Nani, slotted in seamlessly.
“The squad is very strong and everyone can play a part,” said Nani, 22.
“When the manager decides to change things around he knows that every player is ready to do well for the team.”
Rooney’s last game for United was the 1-0 win against Wigan on January 14, when he limped off after scoring an early winner.
But he could make a timely return to the bench as United look to press on in their quest for a third successive English title.
“Wayne should be ready for next Saturday’s game against Blackburn, we’re quite confident of that,” said Ferguson.
“He may have a slight chance of being fit for the bench on Wednesday.”
While mid-table Fulham have enjoyed a much improved campaign following their brush with relegation last season, it will be a major surprise if Roy Hodgson’s side manage to bring United’s winning run to an end.
Since drawing at Tottenham on December 13, Ferguson’s side have won all eight league games – scoring 14 without reply – while title rivals Liverpool and Chelsea have suttered and stumbled.
Yet Hodgson believes Fulham will prove they can perform away from home.
Fulham have yet to win a Premier League match on the road this season and have found the net just three times on their travels.
However, Hodgson’s side have frustrated Liverpool, Aston Villa and Tottenham by holding them to goalless draws.
“Some of the draws away from home have been in games we were expected to lose,” said Hodgson, whose side will host United in the FA Cup quarter-finals if Fulham win their replay with Swansea.
“Our away record is going to haunt us until we do start winning. But the most important thing is that when we’re not winning away, at least we’re getting a result.”
Bobby Zamora, Clint Dempsey and John Pantsil will be restored to the starting line-up at United.
Channel News Asia