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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Louis leaves French squad

Louis Saha will miss France's Euro 2008 qualifiers against the Faroe Islands and Lithuania with a knee injury.

The United striker was called up for his country's Group B double-header, but left the French training camp in Clairefontaine on Tuesday, and the French Football Federation confirmed he will not be replaced in the squad.

The 29-year-old was a precautionary withdrawal from last Saturday's United squad to face Wigan, after feeling a twinge in the same knee which was injured for the second half of last season.

Saha will now return to Manchester to continue his rehabilitation. Read more...

Pique prepared to be patient

Spanish defender Gerard Pique hopes to capitalise on his recent United performances by commanding more regular action in the first-team.

The 20-year-old former Barcelona youngster has played in two of United's last four matches.

Pique was the outstanding Reds player in a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Coventry City, before another fine solid display in the 4-0 win over Wigan, in which he showed he can perform at right-back as well as centre-half.

"I am very pleased [with the way things are going]," he told MUTV's Live from Old Trafford programme. "Since coming back from my loan spell, I just want to stay here and find a place in the team."

Pique was highly impressive on loan with la Liga outfit Real Zaragoza last season, which prompted Sir Alex Ferguson to keep hold of the young defender this year as cover for Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.

"At the moment I am not playing a lot, but I feel confident that I can work hard and find my place in the side," he added. "The team is working well at the moment, so it's difficult to command a place every week. But I know I will get the chances and when I do I will give my best for Manchester United." Read more...

Foster's bright outlook

Ben Foster is refusing to let his spell on the sidelines with a knee injury get him down, and says it could even make him a better goalkeeper.

This season promised to be a crucial one for the 24-year-old goalkeeper who, just two years ago, couldn’t get a game for his former club Stoke City.

It has been a remarkable rise up the football ladder in the two years since joining United as a relative unknown in 2005. Although he is yet to make his competitive debut for the Reds, Foster was outstanding during two seasons on loan at Watford, has already been capped for England and is seen as a strong contender to be Edwin van der Sar’s long-term successor at United.

However, he was forced to undergo back in June to remove a fragment of bone from his knee, an operation which at the time he said was career-saving.

After the initial disappointment, Foster has been nothing but positive. "It was all looking rosy for me and big things were expected and talked about for me this year with United and England," Ben said at the launch of Sells goalkeeper range for 2007-08.

"The injury was a devastating blow. You could start tormenting yourself with thoughts of what might have been happening this year for me. Thoughts about United and England went out of the window for me very quickly.

"After the initial upset I just got my head round it and blanked out the `what if' thoughts. I couldn't afford to think or worry about it.”

Foster sees the time away from playing as an opportunity to improve his all-round game. "The way I looked at it is that I have a very good chance to work on things and other parts of my game that you don't normally get a chance to when you are playing,” he said.

"I have a great opportunity to work on other areas like strength and spring. It could make me a better goalkeeper.

"The last time I suffered the same cruciate injury in the same knee was when I was at Stoke and I was out for six months then. But I remember when I did come back I felt so much stronger physically. I became a man throughout that.

"I am already feeling stronger now and probably the fittest shape I have ever been in my whole career. That's a big plus from all this." Read more...

Wolves snatch Gibson

United's young Irish midfielder Darron Gibson is set to join Wolverhampton Wanderers on loan.

The 19-year-old Republic of Ireland international, who will stay with Mick McCarthy's Championship side until January, made his United debut a day after his 18th birthday in the Carling Cup win over Barnet in October 2005.

He has not experienced any further first-team football since, but he has been a regular and impressive performer in the Reds' reserves.

McCarthy believes Gibson, an attacking midfielder, will add depth to his promotion-chasing team's midfield department.

"Darron is a talented midfielder that will bring us real competition for places in central midfield," McCarthy told the official Wolves website. "He is only 19 but he is a good player and has a good range of passing."

Gibson could make his debut against Charlton Athletic on Saturday 20 October. Read more...

You've still got a lot to prove

Patrice Evra believes just one defeat will open up the chinks in Arsenal’s armour. The Gunners have had an explosive start to the new season with seven wins and one draw. That has put them two points ahead of Manchester United at the top of the Premier League with a game in hand. But Old Trafford defender Evra believes there could be a fragility beneath. The French left-back said: “There is no doubt that Arsenal are a stronger side than they were last season. But I don’t think we will know about this Arsenal team this season until they lose. That’s the important time when you look to see how a team reacts. It is how you bounce back. We know we can do it. We had a difficult start to the season but we have shown great strength and character and are winning now without conceding any goals."
Neil Custis, The Sun