Rafael artistry gives Fergie dilemma

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Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed Brazilian teenager Rafael Da Silva is now an integral part of his first-team squad.

The 18-year-old has been handed starts against Aalborg and West Brom in recent weeks and Ferguson now accepts he has another selection dilemma on his hands at right-back with club captain Gary Neville and Wes Brown also vying for the position.

"In football, when a guy turns the corner you cannot do anything about it," he said. "Rafael is a great talent and his performances are telling me I have another problem at right-back."

At Champions League level, Aalborg did not offer much of a threat, leaving Rafael to attack down the right flank at will.

Saturday's clash with West Brom was somewhat different. While the result was eventually quite one-sided, the Baggies gave a decent account of themselves during the first half.

The pace and power of West Brom winger Chris Brunt provided Rafael with a tough examination of his talent, which is just what Ferguson wanted to see; a reminder of the task a similarly-aged Brown faced against Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink when he encountered Leeds a decade ago.

"Wes himself came in at 18, played against Hasselbaink in his first game against Leeds and he was superb," said Ferguson.

"It is a learning process playing against that power and experience. Premier League football is not easy.

"I didn't realise how big Brunt was and what a nice left foot he had, so that presented a challenge for Rafael.

"For periods in the game he was finding his way and it was only when I was going to take him off that he started to play the way we know he can."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2008, All Rights Reserved.

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West Bromwich Albion
European News
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink
Chris Brunt
Wes Brown
Gary Neville
Leeds United

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