Football

Manchester United Vs Portsmouth, Sat 6 Feb 2010

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Nemanja Vidic is back in contention as Manchester United look to reclaim the Premier League's top spot by beating crisis-club Portsmouth at Old Trafford.

Vidic has been missing since suffering pain from a nerve in his leg prior to the encounter with Wigan at the end of December but has trained this week and could be involved - if not this weekend, then the crucial trip to Aston Villa on Wednesday.

Rio Ferdinand serves the second match of a four-game ban although United have appealed against the additional match imposed for a "frivolous" appeal against the first one.

Edwin Van der Sar believes Manchester United have the awareness that separates them from the rest.

The Dutch goalkeeper is confident they can kick on and lift an unprecedented fourth successive title.

Van der Sar, 39, knows what it is like to have that winning mentality.

"Experience definitely helps," he told www.manutd.com. "You've been there before - through narrow escapes and must-win games. You know how to handle them. The more you go through these situations the better you are at dealing with them.

"There's a moment in your career where it clicks and you think `I`ve been in this situation before, I know what to do, I know what to expect'. That comes in handy sometimes."

Nigeria striker Kanu is expected to be back in the Portsmouth squad.

Nadir Belhadj, Hassan Yebda and Aruna Dindane all played in the 1-0 defeat at Fulham after their international duty ended.

On-loan defender Ricardo Rocha could make his debut having been on the bench at Craven Cottage.

Avram Grant has challenged his Portsmouth players to believe in themselves and give everything for the cause as the Barclays Premier League's bottom club look to pull of a shock at United.

Pompey remain cast adrift following the Fulham defeat. However, a battling display deserved a better result, with Grant's team more cohesive following the return of African Nations Cup trio Nadir Belhadj, Hassan Yebda and Aruna Dindane.

The off-field saga at Fratton Park continues, as Hong Kong-based businessman Balram Chainrai took control in a fourth change of ownership before he then declared "zero interest" in completing a full-blown buy-out.

Pompey also face a winding-up order from HMRC over a #7.5million VAT bill, for which a High Court hearing is due next Wednesday. However Grant maintains his squad deserve great credit for producing consistent performances on the pitch, if not always getting their just rewards.

"We have shown over the past couple of months that when people thought we were down, we recovered and gave everything," said Grant. "I have no doubt the players will give everything again against Manchester United.

"When you see the fact that they keep coming onto the pitch, again and again, giving everything that is good. I always believe - and I do not want to see anyone in my team who does not believe. This is football - anything can happen."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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Topics:
Portsmouth
Football
Premier League
Manchester United

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