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Sanchez is ready to unleash David

By Stuart McKinley

Published 03/12/2007

Lawrie Sanchez has given Northern Ireland striker David Healy a massive confidence boost ahead of his return to Old Trafford tonight.

Now in charge of Fulham, former international boss Sanchez splashed out a bargain £1.5m on the man who gave him famous victories over England, Spain and Sweden during his time in charge of Northern Ireland.

Seven years ago this month Healy made his one and only Premier League appearance for Manchester United, sending a glancing header off a post from a David Beckham cross in a game against Ipswich Town.

Within a fortnight he left Old Trafford to sign for Preston North End and this evening he will finally get the chance to play there again in a top flight match.

And Sanchez believes that is the kind of stage that Healy's undoubted goalscoring talents deserve to be paraded on.

"He's a class striker," said Sanchez.

"He's scored goals at international level and now in the Premier League.

"I expect him to get 10 this season and that is not a bad strike-rate.

"Percentage-wise he's a better striker than Michael Owen and Alan Shearer. For a smaller nation that is phenomenal.

"To score 13 goals in a campaign with Fernando Torres, David Villa and Zlatan Ibrahimovic - he outscored them twice against the same defences with a smaller team."

Healy still has a house in Manchester after living there since he was 16 years old. His wife is from the area and he grew up supporting United, so tonight's game will be his most eagerly-awaited of the season.

And with four goals to his name so far he is well on the way to reaching the target set for him by his manager.

Both Sanchez and Healy will be hoping for a better result than the last time they were at Old Trafford, when Northern Ireland lost 4-0 to England.

Belfast Telegraph

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