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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Silvestre set to stay

Former United defender Laurent Blanc claims Mikael Silvestre has turned his back on a potential move away from Old Trafford.

Blanc, now manager of Bordeaux, has long since coveted his former Reds colleague to bolster his defence for next season's Champions League campaign.

He holds no further hope of snaring Silvestre, however, insisting his compatriot will remain in Manchester.

"Mikael Silvestre? It is finished," Blanc told a press conference, in reference to his quest to sign the United defender. "He has decided to stay in Manchester for his last season there."

Silvestre missed much of last season with a cruciate knee ligament injury, but returned in the latter stages to provide experienced defensive cover.

Sir Alex Ferguson is keen to keep his squad together, and Silvestre seems set to stay in Manchester for what would be a 10th season at Old Trafford.

Sir Alex backs skipper's return

Sir Alex Ferguson believes Gary Neville can make a full recovery from the ankle injury that limited him to just one substitute appearance last season.

The United boss is under no illusions that it is going to be easy but feels his club skipper has got the resolve to return and fight for his place in the side.

“I’m hopeful Gary Neville can come back and I’m sure he can. At 33 it’s always difficult to have been out for a year, of course, but he’s such a determined character you wouldn’t bet against him coming back,” Ferguson stated.

Sir Alex also believes that the United captain has still got a lot to offer should he return to first team action this season.

“If he does, it’s another string to our bow really in terms of experience, which is important.”

Ryan Giggs and Rio Ferdinand shared captaincy duties in Neville’s absence but Ferguson admitted if the right back returns the armband will be handed back to him.

“He is the captain of the club, and that will give him the incentive to return. He knows when he comes back, he’ll be captain again.”

Edwin has extended break

While the majority of United's players return to Carrington for pre-season training on Wednesday, Edwin van der Sar has been given special dispensation to check in whenever he pleases.

The veteran Dutch goalkeeper was a key figure in Holland's charge to the Euro 2008 quarter-finals but now, having retired from the international game and ended a successful but arduous season, Sir Alex Ferguson only wants his number one to return when he is good and ready.

"He’ll get a good break now, I’ve told him to have as much holiday as he wants because at his age he knows what’s best for him," revealed the United manager. "He’ll be back and hopefully he has another great season for us."

Having brought the curtain down on an illustrious international career just weeks after clinching his second European Cup winner's medal, van der Sar has been the recipient of plenty of praise of late - and deservedly so, according to Sir Alex.

"He’s looked after himself, that’s the key to it," he said. "He’s won the European Cup twice and lost another final, so he’s had three finals and a fantastic career. He’s had over 130 caps for his country, he doesn’t need to trumpet his achievements. He’s a modest lad and down to earth."