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Friday, August 15, 2008

Park hungry for more medals

Ji-sung Park is convinced United are capable of improving on last season’s memorable Double triumph.

Not content with the Premier League and Champions League, the Korean has set his sights on winning every trophy available to the Reds this term.

“We missed out on the FA Cup final last season so this time we will try to win every trophy,” the winger told MUTV.

“We have the ability so we will try to develop and achieve even better results than we did last season.

“I believe we can do it because even though we have no new signings, we haven’t lost any players either, which is the most important thing.”

No new faces yet, but United have been boosted by the emergence of several youngsters in pre-season, with the likes of Fraizer Campbell, Rodrigo Possebon and the da Silva brothers catching the eye.

"We have younger players who have shown what they can do in pre-season, so that is also good for us,” added Park, who hopes to return to full training next week following a minor recurrence of his knee injury.

“Last year they sometimes joined us in first-team training. It’s exciting for them and they now just need more experience. I think they may have a chance this season and if younger players are getting better it helps the squad."

Wes will fight for his place

Wes Brown is - like most Reds fans - glad to see Gary Neville back in action for United. But he’s promised to push the club skipper all the way for the right-back slot he occupied so consistently last season.

The 28-year-old defender played more games (52) than anyone in the United squad last term, and he’s looking for more of the same this time around - starting with a place in the team to face Newcastle on Sunday.

“My personal aim this season is to play as many games as I can for United and hopefully to help the side win more trophies,” he told Red View.

“Gary [Neville] is fit again so he will obviously be competing with me for the right-back slot this season, but I’ll keep working hard and look to take advantage of the opportunities I get.”

United need the experience of players like Wes and Gary as the Reds attempt to retain the English and European crowns, a task both players have plenty of experience in at Old Trafford. Having let the Champions League go after the United's last triumph in 1998/99, there is a steely determination to be the first team to hang on to the trophy in the tournament's current guise.

"We’re all feeling positive about our chances after the success we had last season,” Wes added.

“We’re certainly not over-confident because the Premier League and Champions League are such tough competitions to win. But there’s an excitement around the place and we’re looking forward to getting the new campaign underway."

Rooney fit for season opener

Wayne Rooney has shaken off the effects of a virus and could start against Newcastle on Sunday at Old Trafford.

The striker fell ill during the club's pre-season visit to Nigeria at the end of last month and it was feared that Sunday's big kick-off would come too soon for the 22-year-old. But after a solid week's training, Rooney is fit and ready to take on the Magpies.

“Wayne Rooney is fit and he will play on Sunday, which is good news for us," Sir Alex said at his pre-match press conference on Friday.

"He’s trained all week and has done very well. He even trained last Sunday on the morning of the Community Shield. From then on he has been progressing really well."

Rooney's return is a major boost for United, who are already without Cristiano Ronaldo and Louis Saha in attacking positions, and midfielders Owen Hargreaves, Anderson, Nani and Ji-sung Park.

“Nani is suspended so he is out," added the boss. "And Hargreaves, Ronaldo, Park and Saha are all still injured and Anderson is at the Olympics. So in terms of attacking options, we're down to the bare bones."

However, Sir Alex feels his squad still has the strength to overcome Kevin Keegan's men at Old Trafford on Sunday. “The backbone will be the midfielders and defenders we have available," he said. "We have a good variety there.

"Hopefully that’s enough to get us over this first hurdle against Newcastle, which is always a good, exciting game. Newcastle always come and have a go, so it should be an open type of match."

Rooney's back

Wayne Rooney has won his fight to play in Manchester United’s league opener on Sunday. But crocked Michael Owen is OUT of Newcastle’s line-up at Old Trafford. Rooney, 22, was hit by a virus during United’s pre-season trip to Nigeria. The England forward began training again on Monday, though, and is fit for the big kick-off after putting himself through tough double training sessions every day this week. He has trained normally with his team-mates in the morning, then gone through another punishing afternoon schedule.
Neil Custis, The Sun