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Monday, March 31, 2008

Fergie Fired Up For Roma

Alex Ferguson has warned Roma that Wayne Rooney is ready to bring them down. Rooney got his first home league goals since October in Manchester United’s 4-0 thrashing of Aston Villa. And boss Ferguson says Roma are next on Rooney’s hit list. Ferguson said: "Wayne is a top striker and I can see him going on a run now of scoring in each of the next six or seven games." He thinks United have hit top form at just the right time for a League and Champions League double. Fergie added: "Roma is a massive game for us. But in the form we are in we are looking forward to it."
Neil Custis, The Sun

Heaton happy at Euro chance

With Edwin van der Sar a minor doubt (groin) and Ben Foster ineligible to play in Europe, Heaton may find himself on the bench for tomorrow’s first leg tie at the Stadio Olimpico.

Heaton's possible inclusion would cap a remarkable seven days, which began with an international appearance against Poland U21s at Molineux.

“It was great for me and I really enjoyed the game,” Heaton told Manchester United Radio.

“I’ve been involved in a few squads but I’ve always been watching from the bench or in the stands. This time I finally got on.”

A half-time substitute, Heaton kept a clean sheet and made one particularly impressive stop.

“I was happy with my performance,” he admitted before humbly downplaying his performance. “That save was okay but, to be honest, I think there would have been a few questions asked had it gone in. Maybe it looked a bit better than it actually was.”

The international call-up represents a major step in Heaton’s blossoming career and recognises his consistent performances for United’s Reserves.

At England level, Heaton can look up to experienced stoppers like David James and Paul Robinson, but it’s Edwin van der Sar who gives him day-to-day advice.

“I’ve got fantastic examples at this club,” Heaton said. “Look at Edwin: he’s 37 now and his performances this season have been second to none.

“I’ve learnt a lot from Edwin. I’m talking to him all the time and I couldn’t have asked for him to be any better towards me. I’m always picking stuff up from him, whether I’m watching him in his pre-game warm-up or talking to him at the training ground.

“There are certainly a lot of things in Edwin’s game I’d like to bring into mine. He’s so relaxed and composed and I want to try and mirror that. Some of that comes with experience, of course, but I hope to develop that at this stage of my career.

“I’m only 21 and that’s quite young for a goalkeeper. I’m still learning, I’m still developing and, most of all, I’m trying to get better all the time.”

Just like watching Brazil

As a child, Wayne Rooney used to watch Brazil's national team in awe of the football they produced. Now, for United, he says he's living a dream playing the same free-flowing, attacking style.

United head to Rome on Tuesday in bouyant mood after sweeping Aston Villa aside 4-0 on Saturday, one of the Reds' best performances this season.

"To be at this club, with the football we play at times, is brilliant," says Rooney. "It's something every player would want to be a part of.

"It's brilliant. Growing up I used to love watching Brazil," he told BBC Sport. "The football we play in this team is similar to the way Brazil play. It's an honour to be in this team."

Rooney himself goes into Tuesday's Champions League quarter final tie in high spirits. His two goals against Villa ended a six-match run without a goal for the Reds with his brace in the deeply impressive victory.

"I was pleased to score, but I know I've been playing well and the main thing is that we've been playing well as a team and winning."

Rooney will be hoping United take the samba style and winning formula with their to Italy. He added: "Roma is going to be a massive game for us and we prepared the right way with the win against Villa."

Boss ignores Totti absence

Sir Alex Ferguson won’t allow the absence of talismanic Roma skipper Francesco Totti to provoke complacency in his players ahead of Tuesday night’s Champions League quarter-final, first leg.

The veteran striker will sit out the match at the Stadio Olimpico after aggravating a thigh problem on Saturday, but the United manager is still expecting a tough test in the Italian capital.

“I can’t say it’s going to be an easy game, as it’s a Champions League quarter-final,” he told his pre-match press conference.

“Totti is definitely an inspirational figure, but I’m sure the experience of Roma's other players and their manager Luciano Spalletti will overcome that.

“Roma are second in the league and have a fantastic chance of winning it. They’re a better team [than last season], without question, as their league position shows.”

Roma are also missing central defender Juan with a foot injury, but United have injury concerns of their own.

Darren Fletcher, Nani, Louis Saha and Gary Neville have all stayed in Manchester, while Sir Alex will monitor the progress of several other squad members in this evening’s training session.
“You hope to have a full squad available,” he said. “Of course we could do with Louis Saha, and Darren Fletcher is a big game player.

"I think Edwin van der Sar will be fit. Carrick, Giggs and Evra are our doubts, but we’ll see how they come through training tonight."

Heading to Rome on the back of Saturday's 4-0 demolition of Aston Villa has left United in high spirits.

Sir Alex will hope that, even if injuries force him to make changes to his team, the squad is both confident and strong enough to cope.

“You like to have your best team, but you don’t always have that at this stage of the season," he added.

"Coming into these matches, form is important and we’re pleased with ours.”