As I wrote about earlier this week, United have had a ridiculous time with injuries so far this season. Whilst we’ve had fighting talk from several players this week, the injuries have certainly been a concern to me.
“The manager has chopped and changed this season already, whether that be due to injuries, or suspensions or whatever and we have coped with it, just as we coped with what happened in Kiev. It just proves the value of having a good squad,” boasted Giggs. Certainly, we do have a good squad, and the lads playing in the Ukraine this week, with several key first XI players missing, showed how important our strength in depth is.
Still, that doesn’t mean I’m not over the moon to hear that Owen Hargreaves is available to start against Middlesbrough on Saturday. In a rare Saturday three o’clock match, Hargreaves is set to start in the centre of the midfield, and should be partnered by Anderson, who proved his worth on Tuesday. I am usually aware of a massive hole in our midfield when Scholes isn’t on the field, but that wasn’t as apparent when Anderson was doing the job against Dynamo Kiev.
“Owen is fit to start,” said Ferguson. “It’s been frustrating for him, missing games is not what he came here for. He’s come here for a big fee and he must be a bit disappointed with the way things have gone. But it is a long season and he is back now which is terrific news for us because it gives us a better chance of doing well.”
Whilst stunning on the attack, we looked more than a little shaky at the back, and it wasn’t for the first time this either. The added muscle of Hargreaves sitting in front of our defence should work wonders for the team. His display during the derby was enough to leave most reds excited with ideas of what was to come, and I certainly am looking forward to seeing him play again at the weekend.
The good news doesn’t end there though. Both Gary Neville and Michael Carrick should be fit for our game against Arsenal next weekend. Neville, who has been “two to three weeks” away from returning since March, should be playing for the reserves against Stockport next Thursday, and Carrick will be available, assuming all goes well with the scan he is set to have after the weekend. “Neville has been doing a lot of training,” continued Ferguson. “He just needs a game which we are trying to arrange for him. He should be fit in seven days. Michael Carrick goes for a scan on Monday. If he gets the all-clear to start training, he will be available for Arsenal.”
After all this positive news regarding injuries, the only negative came when Ferguson spoke about Scholes, who was ruled out of our Champions League game after knee troubles on Monday. “The first scan did not show the problem clearly, so we are sending him to see a specialist on Monday to try and find out what the damage is and how we deal with it,” explained Ferguson. “Hopefully it is not going to be a long one.”
What or who has made the difference for United during this recent bout of injuries? Which players returning from injury deserve to walk straight back in to the starting XI?