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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Local honour for Ryan

Ryan Giggs has added yet another accolade to his already bulging collection after being awarded an honorary degree by the University of Salford.

United's record appearance-maker, who grew up in Swinton, was made a Master of Arts for his contribution to sport and his unstinting charity work. As an ambassador for UNICEF, he regularly campaigns for children who have been made vulnerable by HIV and AIDS. He was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2007 for his services to football.

Giggs was officially presented with his latest award at a ceremony at the Lowry Theatre in Salford Quays on Tuesday.

"When I started my career as a professional footballer I didn’t envisage that one day I’d be made Master of Arts. So I’m really pleased to accept this degree," said the 33-year-old. "I grew up in Salford and it’s been a big part of my life for 30 years, so it’s great to be a part of Salford University now.”

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Salford, Professor Michael Harloe added: “We're delighted to present this degree to Ryan. It's not only his great achievements on the pitch which deserve recognition, but his valuable charity work with developing countries.”

Dong gets Olympic nod

Dong Fangzhuo has been named in China's under-23 squad for this summer's Olympic Games in Beijing.

The United striker missed the last three months of the 2007/08 season with a knee injury sustained in a Reserves match against Blackburn in February.

But the 23-year-old proved he was back to full fitness by scoring in China's 4-0 warm-up victory over Malaysia last weekend.

He has now taken his place alongside Charlton's Zheng Zhi – one of three permitted over-age players – in the 22-man party for the tournament, which takes place from August 6-23.

Dong is likely to come up against Reds team-mate Anderson in Beijing as China have been drawn against Brazil, New Zealand and Belgium in Group C.

Should China progress to the latter stages of the tournament, Dong will miss the start of the first-team season but will return in time for the Reserves' new campaign, which gets underway on September 18.

O'Shea: We're in good shape

John O'Shea says the Reds are in good shape as preparations for the new campaign continue.

The 27-year-old Irishman had an enjoyable summer on the back of United's double triumph last season. Now back in training, he admits the pre-season regime can be pretty strenuous, but says the players are in safe hands at Carrington.

"All the coaching staff, particularly Tony [Strudwick] our fitness coach are looking after us very well and things are going good so far," he told MUTV.

"You've always got one eye on keeping yourself reasonably fit over the summer and because of internationals at the end of the season you're pretty much kept ticking over.

"I think everyone finds pre-season a little bit tough, but you get through it. It's great to be back, to see all the lads and we're all looking forward to the new season."

The players will step up their work during a ten-day trip to Africa. The squad fly out to Cape Town on Thursday for Saturday's first game in the Vodacom Challenge.

United then visit Durban and Tshwane for two further matches in South Africa, before stopping off in Nigeria's capital city Abuja for a friendly against Portsmouth.

Berbatov confident of making dream move

Dimitar Berbatov is determined Tottenham’s hard-line stance over a proposed move to Manchester United will not wreck his dream of Champions League football next season. United have not agreed a fee with Spurs and have not raised last week’s initial £20m bid. But despite insistence form Tottenham that a new approach is not welcome, Berbatov has told those close to him that he expects to be a United player come the close of the transfer window. Sir Alex Ferguson is prepared to play a waiting game for Berbatov, given the Bulgaria striker is his only major transfer target of the summer. Sources at United confirmed there is no prospect of Berbatov joining them on their tour of South Africa and Nigeria, but negotiations will gather pace upon their return in a fortnight’s time.
Simon Cass, Daily Mail