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Manchester United may rest Ronaldo

By Steven Beacom

When asked to describe the prospect of taking on Manchester United, Celtic manager Gordon Strachan declared it was “scary”. And for once he wasn’t kidding!

United are on fire ahead of tonight’s Champions League group clash with the Bhoys.

Defensively they are looking solid after a few nervous moments earlier on in the campaign.

In midfield Paul Scholes continues to be world class.

Up front Dimitar Berbatov is at last showing the style that persuaded Sir Alex Ferguson to pay £30 million for him.

And then there is Wayne Rooney, arguably the form player in Europe right now.

The only player not delivering for United is Cristiano Ronaldo, who took on allcomers last season and beat them into submission.

There are suggestions that Ronaldo isn’t playing to his normal breathtaking standards because he is upset that a record breaking summer transfer to Real Madrid did not go through.

Ferguson says such talk is rubbish and that in reality, the injury that kept him out of the early part of the campaign is still having an impact on the Portuguese superstar.

So much so that Ferguson is actually considering resting Ronaldo for tonight’s Battle of Britain encounter.

After consultation with former assistant and current Portugal national coach Carlos Queiroz, the Scot believes the winger is struggling to complete two games in a week.

"Carlos feels Cristiano is still finding it hard to recover from a Saturday game to a Wednesday," said Ferguson.

"I need to look at this game and the fact it is on a Tuesday and assess whether to bring in Nani."

Definitely out is Patrice Evra, who suffered a hamstring injury against WBA on Saturday and will not be risked, so John O'Shea will fill the left-back role.

After five successive wins, including a triumph over Aalborg in their last Champions League match, United are hitting the form Ferguson demands.

Celtic are missing Jan Venegoor of Hesselink and Giorgios Samaras while in contrast, the hosts have an embarrassment of riches up front, with Ferguson admitting he faces a major selection dilemma as Carlos Tevez hopes to split Rooney's superb partnership with Berbatov.

"My torment," he said, when asked what he was going to do.

"It is very difficult trying to gauge whether I can play the three of them together. It is a very difficult situation because they are all terrific players."

It really is hard to see anything other than a comfortable home win. Celtic, after one point from their opening two games, are effectively fighting for their Champions League lives.

If they get anything out of tonight’s match it will be an outstanding effort, but don’t bet on it.

Belfast Telegraph


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