Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Manchester United duo out for 'weeks'

Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed defensive duo Gary Neville and John O'Shea will be out for 'weeks' after both men limped out of Manchester United's 2-0 win over Portsmouth at Old Trafford.

Neville was forced off with a foot injury just after Wayne Rooney's early opener and his replacement O'Shea hobbled off not long after half-time after taking a heavy blow on his ankle.

Both could now be missing for the remainder of the campaign, with Ferguson not happy at how either man sustained their injury.

"They are out for weeks," said Ferguson.

"They were both bad tackles but the referee didn't do anything about them.

"You normally expect some firm discipline from Peter Walton - but not tonight."

It was part of a bittersweet evening for the United boss.

Naturally delighted at a victory that has taken his side three points clear of Liverpool, realistically their only remaining rival for the Premier League title, Ferguson was nevertheless frustrated at a glut of wasted chances that he feared may cost his side victory.

"In the first half we probably played the best football we have managed all season," said the United boss.

"We could have been five goals up. Instead we made it difficult for ourselves and at one point I thought 'we are going to throw this away'.

"Thankfully Michael Carrick made a fantastic run and his good finish killed the game off."

Carrick profited from a brilliant pass by Paul Scholes, who was making his 600th appearance.

As usual, Ferguson was gushing in his praise for the former England star, although Portsmouth boss Paul Hart was equally effusive.

"I have used Paul as an example to all the kids I have worked with," said Hart.

"He is a shining example. He doesn't take liberties with the ball. He controls everything. He is perfect as far as I am concerned."

United are also champions as far as Hart is concerned.

With a game in hand on their north-west rivals, who have just five left to play following last night's draw with Arsenal, it is going to take a major shift in fortune for the destination of the championship to change.

However, Ferguson is refusing to take anything as a given.

"We are in a better position now than we were yesterday morning," he said.

"But our second-half performance shows you we should take nothing for granted.

"We have to put our foot down all the time. I do not consider we have any leeway in this situation."

Ferguson confirmed Rio Ferdinand should be fit for Saturday evening's encounter with Tottenham after the defender was rested tonight following his exertions at Wembley on Sunday.

Hart is also hoping for some good news on the injury front ahead of Monday night's crucial trip to fellow relegation battlers Newcastle.

Younes Kaboul is more likely to be fit that Nico Kranjcar, while David Nugent must shake off the effects of a dead leg.

"We had a decent period in the second-half when I thought we might get something out of the game," said Hart.

"But I didn't think we started the match with much confidence and we were riding our luck just to be 1-0 down at half-time."

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