Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Adrian Januzaj is Manchester United's boy wonder as Wilfried Zaha forced to play waiting game

Zaha forced to play a waiting game as new boss prefers his tough and talented Adrian

Teenage kicks are hard to beat: Adrian Januzaj (centre) is very much part of the Manchester United first team squad

David Moyes has hailed the spirit of Manchester United midfielder Adnan Januzaj as he continues to make a major impact in his first Barclays Premier League season.

 

Januzaj came off the bench to help inspire United's 3-2 comeback win over Stoke at Old Trafford on Saturday and Moyes believes his slender build belies a ferocious competitive instinct.

Januzaj is is line to start for United along with Saturday's match-winner Javier Hernandez in the Capital One Cup clash with Norwich at Old Trafford tonight.

Moyes said: "If ever there was a boy who can take it, it will be him.

"You just hope the referees give him the correct protection, and I'm sure they will, but he won't be moaning about it – he's a great lad and he'll bounce up and get on with it.

"You can kick him as hard as you like and it won't affect him."

Moyes has admitted that Wilfried Zaha is in contention to face Norwich despite not yet making his Premier League bow for the champions.

Zaha has been linked with a possible loan switch away from United in January.

"I just don't think we have had the right opportunity to get him on as much as would have liked," admitted Moyes.

"We don't want to put him in too quickly. We want to make it the right time.

"I've said I would look at it in January as I wanted to have him here for six months to see how we work. I told him we would try to get him minutes but the competition in the wide areas we have with Nani, Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young, Adnan Januzaj and even Shinji Kagawa playing off the side means we are as strong there as anywhere.

"It's not that Wilf has done anything wrong, it's just that we have big competition and we have to try to make sure he gets some playing time. Unfortunately, we haven't done that with Wilf and, if it's still the case in January, we would look at it. But he is very much in my plans and in my thoughts all the time."

Moyes was also keen to stress that he fully supports Portuguese winger Nani after he was booed off on Saturday.

Frustration had spilled over among the home fans as the visitors maintained their shock lead heading towards the hour mark and they made their displeasure known as Nani went off in the 58th minute to be replaced by Januzaj.

Nani has been criticised for a number of ineffectual performances this season after signing a new five-year contract in the summer, but Moyes insisted: "He is a regular and captain for Portugal so he is very talented.

"There were one or two decisions he might have made better, but he got us the (first) goal with a lovely ball. We have a lot of competition for places in the wide areas, incredible competition, and that is what we're looking for."

United head into the clash with the Canaries keen to keep their good run going after back-to-back successes against Stoke and Real Sociedad went some way towards improving on their sluggish start to the season.

After Saturday's bruising encounter Moyes will have to check his treatment table before confirming his squad for the game.

Moyes said: "We have got a squad of first-team players who are all capable of playing and everyone is used to that, the crowd see that and expect it.

"We will see what we have got. We have one or two knocks and niggles which we will assess.

"But we are beginning to tick along, quite quietly."

The League Cup is widely treated with derision by many of the top teams in England.

But Moyes' left back Patrice Evra insists the Capital One Cup is a big trophy and admits the competition holds special memories for him.

"The League Cup is a big trophy for me – it's the first one I won (in 2006) when I joined," said Evra.

"I remember that moment well and that first trophy is always so important for you as a player."

With new manager Moyes looking to maintain the trophy-laden years under Ferguson, Evra can thinks success in the cup would provide the perfect platform.

"It doesn't matter if it's the Community Shield, the League Cup or something else," he added.

"From that day you start to be a winner. You want to win more. You are hungry for more. That (in 2006) was a very important trophy for us. We went on to win many more after that one.

"It's one we always want to win. It doesn't matter who plays, whether it's the senior players or the younger players, Manchester United always wants to win.

"Everyone has that winning mentality at the club and it's our aim to get the victory on Tuesday. The Norwich game will be a tough challenge but the team did well against Liverpool (in the last round) which was a difficult match and we can hope we can play well again and win the game."

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