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Monday, October 29, 2007

Knee op rules Scholes out for three months

Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes will have a knee operation on Thursday and is expected to be out of action for three months.

The 32-year-old reported the injury during training prior his side's Champions League win over Dynamo Kiev on Tuesday.

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed on Friday a first scan proved inconclusive - but a second examination today has confirmed ligament damage, meaning Scholes will now be out of action until February.

It is a big blow for Scholes, and also for United, even though the return of Owen Hargreaves for Saturday's Premier League win over Middlesbrough and the imminent return to training of Michael Carrick - who dislocated an elbow against Roma earlier this month - negate the impact slightly.

For over a decade, Scholes has been one of the mainstays of Ferguson's side and his unerring ability to produce goals at vital times has aided many of the Red Devils trophy successes down the years.

He had already made an amazing comeback from career-threatening eye surgery to play a major part in last season's title triumph and while he had only scored once in 12 appearances so far this term, few were discounting him as a massive influence on the current campaign.

Although there were early rumours of a three-month absence, United officials felt they were not in a position to confirm the bad news until a second examination had taken place.

It means the former England star - who has rejected two comeback calls from national boss Steve McClaren - will miss a minimum of 13 Premier League games, starting with Saturday's visit to Arsenal and including the crucial trip to Liverpool on December 16, plus the start of United's FA Cup campaign.

However, Ferguson will be delighted to note Scholes should be back in action - and hopefully fresh - when his side resume their Champions League quest at the knockout stage towards the end of February. Read more...

Edwin Van Der Sar

Position: Goalkeeper
Joined United: 01 Jun 2005
Transfer Fee: Undisclosed
Previous Clubs: Fulham
United Debut: 09 Aug 2005 v Debreceni VSC (H)
International Holland


* Eredivisie: 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998
* KNVB Cup: 1993, 1998, 1999
* UEFA Champions League: 1995
* UEFA Cup: 1992
* European Super Cup: 1995
* Intercontinental Cup: 1995


* UEFA Intertoto Cup: 2002

Manchester United

* FA Premier League: 2007
* English League Cup: 2006
* Community Shield: 2007


* Best European Goalkeeper: 1995


Van Der Sar to quit Oranje after Euro 2008

Manchester United and Holland goalkeeper Edwin Van der Sar has revealed his intention to quit international football after Euro 2008.

Van der Sar, who turned 37 on Monday, made his Oranje debut in June 1995 against Belarus and has since racked up 121 caps for his country.

The former Juventus and Ajax keeper said: 'I will stop with with the Oranje after Euro 2008. The time has come.'

Holland still require one win from their remaining Euro 2008 qualifiers against minnows Luxembourg and Belarus to qualify for next summer's finals in Austria and Switzerland.

Van der Sar is out of contract at United at the end of the season. Read more...

Wenger issues Reds warning

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger insists his side go into Saturday's showdown with United on the crest of a wave, following Sunday's draw with Liverpool.

The Gunners dominated at Anfield, but needed a late Cesc Fabregas equaliser to claim a deserved point. Wenger insists that, having come through their first major test of the season unscathed, Arsenal are ready for another challenge this weekend.

"We have come out of our first big test this season stronger," he told Sky Sports. "We played without the handbrake on, without any restrictions and we were faithful to the game we wanted to play.

"I cannot fault anyone, it was a fantastic game. Manchester United is another big test, but after this performance we will be facing United much stronger."

Sunday's point took Arsenal back ahead of United at the summit of the Barclays Premier League table on goals scored, and Wenger insists his side have already proven their worth as genuine title contenders.

"I have always been very confident of what we could achieve this season," he said. "I said it before the season started and now we have convinced a few more people.There is a long way to go, but we have the talent to fight right at the top for the Championship." Read more...

Owen: Best yet to come

Despite United’s recent blistering form, midfielder Owen Hargreaves has warned the Reds’ title rivals that there is still plenty more to come.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s side swept aside Middlesbrough on Saturday, scoring four goals for a fourth successive match, but Hargreaves insists that there is still room for improvement in the Reds’ game.

“We look good, our offensive play is very good,” he told MUTV. “But we have some things we can work on, even going forward. We had some wonderful moments (against Boro) but at times we were a bit complacent.

“We could have, if we’d wanted, scored more goals so we have some things we can work on, and that’s a great thing. We’re winning comfortably and we’re not even hitting top gear yet.”

United travel to Arsenal on Saturday in a mouth-watering top-of-the-table clash, with only goals scored separating the two teams, and Hargreaves is confident the Reds can take advantage of having no midweek fixture to thoroughly prepare for their trip to the Emirates.

“We’ve got some time to focus and look at some tape of Arsenal and look at what they do well,” said the midfielder.

“They’ve played extremely well and played some good football, but I still think that we’re the top team in England. It’ll be a fabulous game for the fans to enjoy, but I think we’ll be very confident going into the game.” Read more...

Sir Alex in Ronaldo rant

Alex Ferguson fears Cristiano Ronaldo may fall victim to football’s hatchet men. And the Manchester United boss believes opposition crowds are turning refs against his winger. Ferguson said: “I am worried too many defenders are pursuing a policy of stopping Ronaldo by fair means or foul. Some of the tackles on him have been ridiculous this season. I don’t mean defenders should let him through, but I do expect refs to protect him more. I expect opposition fans to boo our man but I don’t expect refs to be influenced by the hostility. Special players like Ronaldo, whom fans want to see play, need to be encouraged rather than kicked out of the game.”
Ben Kinsella, The Sun