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Monday, June 30, 2008

Winger open to Blades offer

Lee Martin admits he is playing a waiting game over his United career, with talks over his future looming large.

The 21-year-old winger expects to meet Sir Alex Ferguson this week and, should he be told that his future lies away from Old Trafford, Martin would love to return to Sheffield United after last season's successful loan.

"I'm still at United and it's a matter of going back on the first of July and speaking to the gaffer," Martin told the Yorkshire Evening Post.

"It's all up in the air and nothing has been said yet. It's a bit weird and just a waiting game at the minute. I enjoyed my time at Sheffield United and would definitely go back if an offer came in. But it's out of my hands."

Martin was impressed with the Blades' set-up during his brief stay in Sheffield, and he has no doubt that they belong back in England's top flight.

"They definitely have a great chance," he said. "I think they have got one of the strongest squads in the Championship and with the gaffer, Kevin Blackwell, they've got a really talented manager.

"It's a massive club which belongs in the Premiership. They know they have to get there next season and after such a strong finish under Kevin they will fancy their chances."

Rio plays down captaincy talk

Rio Ferdinand won't let ongoing speculation about the England captaincy distract him from his longstanding focus on silverware.

The United defender is tipped as a strong contender to become Fabio Capello's permanent skipper, but he insists he would not be disappointed if the Italian opted to hand the armband to another contender.

"A lot of people have been talking about it (the captaincy) but it is not the be all and end all for me," he told Sky Sports News. "I go out and play for my team and try to win trophies."

Ferdinand repeatedly skippered United during last season's Double campaign, while the likes of Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and John O'Shea also led the Reds for at least one game. In Rio's eyes, having so many potential leaders together can render the armband obsolete.

"I've said many times that the more captains you have on the pitch the better it is for the team," he said. "At United last season we had a lot of captains no matter who wore the armband, so if that can transpire to the England team then great."

Boss eyes sole signing

Sir Alex Ferguson says United are about to become active in the hunt for new players.

Now Euro 2008 has ended, the boss expects the transfer market to belatedly click into gear but says he is unlikely to bring in more than one new face to his double-winning squad.

"The European Championship derails transfer activity," said Sir Alex. "Nothing really happens during the tournament. But now it's all over, managers will be back at their clubs and you can get some dialogue now if there's interest.

"I wouldn't think (we'll sign) any more than one player. We are looking at one or two things."

Sir Alex now has the task of procuring the right player at the right price, a task which invariably proves taxing when faced with reluctant sellers.

"People think it's easy to buy players nowadays but it's not," he said.

"Money plays a big part, first of all. And clubs with ambitions don't want to sell their best players. So it's not as easy as you'd think. We tend to look for younger players."

Sir Alex was speaking to Sky Sports at the Great Scots Cup charity golf event.

Boss Believes He Can Keep Ronaldo

Sir Alex Ferguson returns to work at Manchester United this morning after his holiday, convinced that he will triumph in the forthcoming battle of wills with Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portugal winger is determined to engineer a move to Real Madrid, but Ferguson is vehemently opposed to selling and will spend this week examining ways to strengthen his squad. While Ferguson has been disappointed by some of Ronaldo’s comments, he does not want to sell the player and is convinced that Ronaldo will drop the issue when he learns of the extent of United’s opposition to the sale. United have been encouraged that, despite frequent references to Ronaldo’s “dream” of joining Real, he has not demanded a move and that the statement he planned to make more than a week ago, in which he intended to plead with United to let him move to Spain, has not materialised.
Oliver Kay, The Times