A wealth of striking options for Manchester United manager Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson has a multitude of options for whom he will partner with Wayne Rooney in Manchester United's attack, but his backline may be a worry.
Sir Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager, has several options on who will partner with Wayne Rooney, left.
Sir Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager, has several options on who will partner with Wayne Rooney, left.

Sir Alex Ferguson will have three quarters of his first-choice defence missing against Tottenham Hotspur Monday, but the Manchester United manager has no such issues in his forward line.

In fact, it is a case of which player to leave out

Wayne Rooney, United's spearhead, has been on fire in 2011, netting 14 in 26 appearances over the second half of last season, and opening the scoring in last week's 2-1 win at West Bromwich Albion.

Meanwhile, 20-year-old Danny Welbeck started in the Community Shield and against West Brom, leaving Dimitar Berbatov consigned to the bench. Ferguson also has Javier Hernandez to come back from concussion.

"He [Rooney] has been flying in pre-season," said Ferguson. "His fitness is terrific, he has the same energy all the time, he is a restless player on the pitch, he can never stand still. He is a tremendous asset to our squad.

"It's interesting to see how he is combining with Welbeck at the moment. Both have done very well together.

"I've Berbatov, who did very well in pre-season, he played really well. When Chicarito [Hernandez] returns then I've a selection problem to work out the best combination.

"For me, Chicarito has goals written all over him, so it's not a bad position to be in."

With Hernandez still sidelined and with Michael Owen also out with a back problem, Ferguson is limited to either Berbatov or Welbeck to start alongside Rooney for the visit of Tottenham.

With the defenders Rio Ferdinand (hamstring), Nemanja Vidic (calf) and right-back Rafael (shoulder) sidelined, it will be a young backline that faces Spurs.

Phil Jones, 19, makes his home debut following his £16.5 million (Dh99m) move from Blackburn Rovers and will partner Jonny Evans, 23, at centre-back, and Chris Smalling, 21, at right-back.

Patrice Evra returns at left-back after missing the win over West Brom with an ankle injury.

Meanwhile, Kyle Walker says he will put his friendship with United's Ashley Young to one side tonight.

Young and Walker developed a close bond when they played together at Aston Villa last season, with Walker's support from full-back helping Young put in the kind of performances that prompted United to pay £16m for the winger's signature in June.

Walker's time at Aston Villa has also paid dividends for him. The 21 year old spent the second half of last season on loan at the Midlands club, where his impressive displays helped him become a member of the England squad.

Now back at Spurs, Walker is battling with Vedran Corluka for the right-back spot, and he seems to be ahead of the Croatian after starting against Hearts on Thursday in the Europa League.

Walker has tipped Young to become a star at United.

"It didn't surprise me when he moved to Man United. You can see from what he did last year at Villa that he is a quality player," Walker said. "We get on really well, me and Ash. We had a good understanding at Villa. We still talk off the pitch, which is nice, but I'll just treat it as a normal game and I'll look forward to coming up against him.

"When you cross that white line it's a game of football, and I need to do a job out there."



Key Battle

Ashley Young v Kyle Walker

Although Young and Nani swap flanks throughout matches, United's new arrival usually starts on the left. His crossing and dribbling ability are a real asset, but he has a tough customer on his hands in Walker, already part of the England set up. The pair were teammates last season at Villa.


Tottenham are likely to use their wide men - Gareth Bale, below, and Aaron Lennon - on the break, although they are not really a team set up to defend, with so many attacking talents. United will dominate possession.

Previous meetings

Spurs fans, look away now. Your team have not won at Old Trafford since 1989, and have not beaten United in their last 24 games in all competitions. To put that in context, United's keeper, David De Gea, was not born the last time Spurs beat United. If ever a team had a bogey side, then this is it.

Probable line-ups

Man Utd (4-4-2) De Gea; Smalling, Jones, Evans, Evra; Anderson, Cleverley, Nani, Young; Rooney, Berbatov

Tottenham (4-4-1-1) Gomes; Walker, Kaboul, Dawson, Assou-Ekotto; Huddlestone, Modric, Bale, Lennon; Van der Vaart; Defoe


. United only dropped two points at Old Trafford last season.

. Spurs scored more goals (15) from outside the penalty box than any other team last season.

Published: August 22, 2011 04:00 AM


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