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Monday, September 17, 2007

Giggs: We're better equipped

Ryan Giggs feels that United are capable of bettering last season's run to the Champions League semi finals because the Reds have a stronger squad this time around.

The Reds lost out to eventual winners AC Milan at the semi-final stage of the competition, despite recording a 3-2 victory over the Italians in the first leg at Old Trafford.

Giggs says the squad learnt a valuable lesson from that experience and are determined to go one step further this time round.

"We are better equipped for Europe than we were last year," said the 33-year-old.

"We have brought in players who have experience in Europe and hopefully, the younger lads can learn from their experience in Europe last year.

"I remember when I was a young lad, I learned something new from every game I played in Europe, especially away from home.

"Each game you play you get better and have more confidence. Hopefully that will be the case for the team this year."

The Reds kick-off this season's campaign on Wednesday evening in Portugal against Sporting Lisbon.

Clashes with Dynamo Kiev and Roma will follow in due course, with Giggs insisting the Reds are more than a match for anyone providing they hit top gear.

"If we play to our best ability, we should get out of the group quite comfortably," declared the midfielder.

"It is a tough group because they are all good teams and the away games will all be particularly hard.

"Hopefully we will get off to a good start. If we do that, we will be confident about going through." Read more...

Owen doubtful for Lisbon clash

Owen Hargreaves is a doubt for United's opening Champions League game against Sporting Lisbon on Wednesday.

The 26-year-old midfielder is struggling with a thigh strain and missed United's 1-0 win over Everton at the weekend.

It had been thought that Hargreaves would be fit for the trip to Portugal, but the Englishman didn't train on Monday morning and is now a doubt for the opening Group F clash in Lisbon.

"[The injury] is okay, I have never really had this injury before so this is new territory," he told the Press Association on Monday afternoon. "I can't say for certain but it looks as though I won't be ready for Wednesday because I have not trained."

He is, however, hopeful of making Sunday's crucial Premier League clash with Chelsea at Old Trafford. "I thought I would be fit to play for England in the Israel game, then the Russia game and then Everton, but I've still not done it. I have to take it day by day so hopefully I will be fit for the weekend."

Injury prevented Hargreaves from appearing in United's opening three matches of the campaign. But he proved exceptional in the three games he has played in so far this term. Outstanding despite defeat to Manchester City, he then helped the Reds to 1-0 victories over Tottenham Hotspur and Sunderland, which makes it all the more maddening that he cannot have a clear run of games.

"It is frustrating," he said. "I missed pre-season then I had a run of games and I was really enjoying it. It is just disappointing to suffer something so niggly. But I think these injuries come from last season when I broke my leg." Read more...

FC Seoul deny bid for starlet

Korean side FC Seoul have denied rumours that United are attempting to take their highly-rated young midfielder Ki Sung-yueng on trial at Old Trafford.

The 18-year-old, who played against United during the Reds' pre-season tour of the Far East in the summer, has earned rave reviews in the K-League this season.

His performances have led to speculation in his home country that the youngster could join fellow countryman Ji-sung Park in Manchester.

But FC Seoul say there is no truth in the story and they have had no contact with United about the Korea Under-23 starlet.

"We haven't heard from United or received any formal documents," a club official told reporters in Korea's capital.

"It is the middle of the (K-League) season now, so organising a trial would be very difficult." Read more...

Rested Rooney fit for Sporting test

Sir Alex Ferguson believes Wayne Rooney will be ready to play in Manchester United's Champions League tie away to Sporting Lisbon on Wednesday. The England forward was not risked against his former club today when United beat Everton 1-0 at Goodison Park with a late goal from Nemanja Vidic. Rooney was not even on the bench after his recovery from a broken foot. But Ferguson said: "He will be fit for Wednesday, we have taken medical advice and he only started training on Monday. And after only five days he is a bit short of fitness, he trained over the weekend and will do so through until Wednesday."
Staff reporter, Daily Mail