Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: United Hold Their Breath on Skipper

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: United Hold Their Breath on Skipper

Article excerpt

Byline: By Simon Stone

SIR Alex Ferguson has revealed Manchester United skipper Gary Neville may require surgery to cure his troublesome calf problem.

The 31-year-old first reported the injury when he returned from World Cup duty with England, since when he has struggled to play a consistent run of games for the Old Trafford outfit.

Worryingly, the fluid which had only been developing in his right leg has now started to appear in his left, prompting his half-time substitution at Blackburn a fortnight ago.

Neville then missed England's friendly draw in Holland last week before returning to the United starting line-up for Saturday's win at Sheffield United.

However, while Ferguson claimed his captain suffered no reaction to his outing at Bramall Lane, on the eve of United's eagerly-awaited Champions League showdown with Celtic, he admitted concern over Neville's long-term health remains. And if the injury returns, the United boss has confirmed action will have to be taken.

"Gary came through Saturday's game okay and he trained this morning but obviously, the injury has been a concern," said Ferguson. "We are holding our breath hoping it doesn't happen again because if it does we will have to take a long-term view and do something about it."

Although Neville could carry on playing, Ferguson is not prepared to take the risk of the full-back breaking down completely, which could lead to a lengthy spell on the sidelines at a time when United are chasing glory on what the Scot hopes will be many fronts.

"If it keeps going on and on and on, we might get to the new year having lost him for a long period," he said. Had it just been one calf, we would be saying to ourselves, 'Give it time'. But because he is getting it in the left one as well, it suggests it is something different."

Although both Wes Brown and John O'Shea are capable of filling the right-back berth, Ferguson is understandably keen to have one of the mainstays of his squad available and is keeping his fingers crossed the problem will rectify itself.

"Gary is our captain," said the Scot. …

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