Saturday, June 5, 2010

Giggs, Rooney add to United's pain

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Manchester United defender Nemanja Vidic (down) and Bolton Wanderers forward Kevin Davies compete for the ball during their English Premier League match on Sunday. The match finished 2-2. Paul Ellis/Agence France-Presse

Mounting injury woes heap pressure ahead of Valencia trip

LONDON - Sir Alex Ferguson is facing a double injury headache ahead of Manchester United's Champions League game at Valencia on Wednesday.

Ryan Giggs is definitely out of the trip to Spain after limping off with a hamstring injury as United was held to a 2-2 Premier League draw away to Bolton on Sunday.

Wayne Rooney is also facing a race against time to be fit.

The England striker, who produced another subdued performance, suffered a gashed ankle before being withdrawn with half an hour of the Bolton game remaining, although Ferguson remains hopeful he will feature in midweek.

"Ryan's is the more serious," said the United manager. "It's a hamstring, I'm afraid. He'll be out for a couple of weeks. As for Rooney, he should be fit for Wednesday."

With Antonio Valencia out with a long-term ankle injury and Michael Carrick (Achilles) and Owen Hargreaves (knee) also sidelined, Ferguson is facing a mounting injury crisis at a key stage of the season.

Rio Ferdinand was also missing on Sunday, the England defender not yet ready to play two games in a short space of time following his knee injury.

Giggs's injury and Rooney's scare contributed to a bad day for Ferguson and his team. With Chelsea and Arsenal both losing the day before, United blew a great chance to move to within a point of the summit.

It required a late goal by substitute Michael Owen to rescue the visitor after goals by Zat Knight and Martin Petrov had put Bolton 2-1 ahead, with Nani also on the scoresheet for United. Ferguson's side is still seeking its first away win of the season and has yet to record back-to-back victories this term.

"We created tremendous chances and played a lot of good football and did well to come from behind," said Ferguson.

"The second half was really even and I thought Bolton were a real handful. Our chances were reduced in the second half, but we had plenty of possession.

"We must take credit for coming back again. Being behind twice away from home and come back from it is not an easy thing to do.

"But it does show a bit of character and a lot of teams will come here and find it very difficult. Bolton are a handful in terms of the aerial ability that they have and their direct play at times is very good.

"It was a fair result. It was a really good match in the second half.

"Away from home this season we have scored seven goals and we have only got three points. It gives you a measure of the quality in the league. It's a very difficult league.

"The plus points for us today was that we kept coming back and kept showing that character."

Bolton manager Owen Coyle leapt to Rooney's defense following another quiet performance by the forward, whose personal life has come under scrutiny following newspaper allegations of an extra-marital affair with a prostitute.

"What I do know is that Wayne Rooney as a footballer is an absolutely class act," said Coyle.

"I've always felt Manchester United and England as a country are very fortunate to have him.

"Anyone who is patriotic about their country, being an Englishman, wants the best for their team, and I don't think what the lad's going through is helping him or will help his country in the long term.

"So maybe it's time to lay off him and let him go and play his football."

Agence France-Presse

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