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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Foster upbeat about his future

The 2007/08 campaign may be hugely successful for the Reds, but for Ben Foster, the United goalkeeper forced out for eight months with a serious cruciate knee ligament injury, it’s been a write off.

After an England call-up as reward for his outstanding displays on loan at Watford, the challenge of trying to depose Edwin van der Sar as United’s no.1 was next on the 24-year-old’s hit list.

Then the bad news came: a recurring cruciate knee ligament injury that would require surgery, putting his ambitions on hold. Now on the verge of making a reserves return, he explains how he has coped with the long road to recovery…

Can you explain your injury for us?
I ruptured my cruciate knee ligament. It’s an injury I’ve suffered before, years ago when I was at Stoke City. As this is the second time I’ve had the injury, the doctors decided that I should have a donor tendon. It’s had good results for other patients in the past, and the surgeon thought it would be the best option for me. The recovery time is two months longer, because it takes time for the tendon to set in and knit. It was a usual cruciate operation, but with a donor.

How long do you think it will be before you’re playing first-team football again?
I haven’t really thought about it too much. At the start of the season I wrote this season off myself. I just wanted to recover from the operation and get back to full fitness, with maybe a few reserves games. The chance of going out on loan is probably gone now. I think I will just have to wait until next season, realistically. Edwin [van der Sar] has been excellent again this season and Tomasz [Kuszczak] has performed well when he has been called in. I’ve got no qualms about not being put in any time soon.

What have you been doing during the eight months you’ve been out?
It’s really hard. People perhaps won’t realise that you’re going to work every day. You’ve still got to come in each day and go into the gym, do your cardiovascular work, weights etc. I’ve had swimming coaches in and all sorts to improve my fitness. They keep you busy, but it is hard work.

The injury couldn’t have come at a worse time, considering you’d just started to get chances for England, and denied you the opportunity to have a go at United’s first team…
I was massively disappointed. At the end of last season I was on a high because everything seemed to be going so well. Then the bad news came along. It was bad timing. But you just have to roll with it. As soon as I did it I just had to forget about England and United’s first-team. You just have to get your head down and get on with the recovery process.

Do you hope that next season you’ll be in a position to challenge for the no.1 jersey?
Last season I felt on top of my game and that nothing would stand in my way. I’ve got to get that feeling back. First, that will mean getting my head down in training and working on the things that you lose from not playing for such a long time. I’m hoping for a few Reserves games before the end of the season and hopefully then I’ll be knocking on the manager’s door.

Ben Foster was speaking exclusively to MUTV.

Form pleases Carrick

Michael Carrick has been pleased with his own performances this season, but he accepts that it won’t earn him a permanent place in the team.

The 26-year-old midfielder’s passing and vision has been a real asset to United in recent weeks.

“I’m pleased with my own form,” he told MUTV. “As the season has gone on I feel I’ve got stronger and stronger and I’m happy with the way things are going. But now is the time where we need everyone to be in top form with important games coming up every week.”

In a midfield where competition for places is fierce, a good performance can often be followed by a space on the bench. But Carrick doesn’t see it as being dropped, and can suppress his disappointment with the thought that the policy is more likely to deliver trophies come the end of the season.

“You have to get used to it,” he explains. “It’s not a case of getting dropped, it’s about making the right decisions for the benefit of the team.

“You have to look at the bigger picture for the whole season. The boss has got all the experience in the world, he knows exactly what is required over the course of the campaign. You don’t want to be sat on the sidelines, but you can’t get too down. Your chance comes round pretty quickly.

“As the years go on it’s becoming more and more of a squad game. Every game is important. But everyone here is happy to miss the odd game if you can win trophies at the end of the season.”

The advantage of a large squad not only aids physical recovery, it enhances the options available to Sir Alex to counter opponents differing styles of play.

“There’s so much quality in our midfield, and the advantage of that is that you can adapt to different games, opposition or scenarios,” he adds.

“Each player has their own strengths, it’s not like we have five players who are all exactly the same.

“There is a good variety, and that gives the boss options. So far it’s worked pretty well. Players have come in and out, and it hasn’t seemed to affect us. It’s working really well.” Read more...

Sir Alex Ferguson: Anderson is the natural successor for Paul Scholes

Sir Alex Ferguson has hailed Manchester United's rising young midfield star Anderson as the natural successor to Old Trafford veteran Paul Scholes.
Anderson, 19, has broken into the United first-team far quicker than expected following his £19million move from Porto last summer.
He starred in the recent 4-0 FA Cup rout of Arsenal, impressed in the 1-1 Champions League draw at Lyon, and is set to start in the crucial Premier League clash at Fulham on Saturday.
"Anderson has exploded on to the scene for us and been absolutely phenomenal," said Fergie.
"We're really pleased with his progress and the evidence is there for all to see.
"When Scholes got his last injury it opened the door for Anderson, and we discovered a boy who had talent.
"He isn't entirely like Scholes, although there are similarities. But he's more of an aggressive running player.”
David McDonnell, The Mirror