Belfast Telegraph

Manchester United's Darron Gibson all set to seize his moment

Darron Gibson believes he is ready to step up to the plate for Manchester United and the Republic of Ireland this season, after the gushing praise of Red Devils’ boss Sir Alex Ferguson in the wake of their win over an Airtricity League XI in the Aviva Stadium on Wednesday night.

Ferguson drew parallels between Gibson and Paul Scholes after the Derry man played an instrumental role in the United midfield as they hammered Damien Richardson's side 7-1 in the opening football game at the redeveloped Lansdowne Road venue.

“We expect Darron to play a big part this season,” Ferguson said.

“Last season he made his mark for me by scoring six goals.

“When Paul Scholes was Darron's age, he was getting 15 but playing a lot more games and I like to think if I gave Darron 20 games or so he'd give me 10 goals back.

“Without doubt he's got the ability to be a top player.

“He's got the power, the physique, the shooting ability, everything he needs to be a very good player indeed,” enthused Ferguson before his side jetted back to Manchester ahead of their Community Shield clash with Chelsea this weekend.

High praise indeed. But Gibson, 22, believes he is worth it, and thinks he can prove it for Manchester United this season having failed to nail down a regular first team spot in the last campaign.

“I think this year is even bigger than last year for me,” he said.

“I think I showed everyone what I could do last season.

“I've got one foot in the door and hopefully this year I can kick on and play a lot more games and establish myself.

“Obviously getting the games last year and scoring a few goals settles the nerves a bit and I do feel a lot more comfortable going in there.

“When you go in there first, sometimes you can be overawed by the big players but I've gradually worked my way into the squad and hopefully I can kick on from here and play a lot more.”

Gibson's international career has also been a stop-start one thus far as he played third-choice central-midfielder to Glenn Whelan and Keith Andrews in Ireland's doomed World Cup campaign.

But, with Whelan missing out through injury in next Wednesday's friendly with Argentina, Gibson thinks it is a big opportunity for him to stake his claim for a starting berth for the forthcoming European Championship qualification campaign.

“Yeah obviously with Glenn Whelan getting injured during the week I think it gives me a chance to show what I can do so

hopefully everything goes well next week,” he said.

Meanwhile, Michael Owen returns to Wembley on Sunday crossing his fingers that the pitch problems which ended his first season at Manchester United have finally been resolved.

Owen's presence as a regular member in Sir Alex Ferguson's squad last season was brought to an abrupt end in the most cruel circumstances in February’s Carling Cup Final.

Capping an energetic 45-minute outing on Wednesday with a well-taken goal, means Owen should play some part in this weekend's Community Shield encounter.

At Wembley to do some promotional work for the Football Association last week, Owen noted the work being carried out on the pitch he blames for his debut United season ending early.

Now he can only hope it makes a difference.

“They were there doing something on the pitch when I was at Wembley recently,” said striker Owen.

“Something new has been installed which means 10% of the turf is now synthetic.

“Hopefully it makes it better, because the Wembley pitch must have had something to do with my injury.

“I wasn't the only injury to come out of that game.

“There were quite a lot of other injured players. That is the worrying bit.

“If it had just been me you could say it was a freak accident.”

Ferguson will check on the relative fitness of his squad before finalising his line-up for the weekend, knowing the fact that United's opening Premier League fixture with Newcastle has been put back 48 hours to August 16 provides vital preparation time in a week badly disrupted by midweek internationals.

Michael Carrick has already been ruled out with an ankle injury which Ferguson does not believe is too serious.

For Owen, it is another opportunity to confirm his well-being, and forget what damage that pitch did.

Belfast Telegraph

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