West Bromwich Albion Vs Manchester United, Sun 14 Aug 2011

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Football News

Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed David de Gea will be in goal for Manchester United's Premier League opener at West Brom on Sunday.

De Gea has been chosen to fill the vacancy created by Edwin van der Sar's retirement despite what many felt was a shaky performance in last weekend's Community Shield encounter with Manchester City.

It is not a view Ferguson shares. Although the United boss accepts De Gea got his footwork wrong for Edin Dzeko's second goal, he absolved the former Atletico Madrid man of any blame for the opener, even though it was suggested he should have punched David Silva's inswinging free-kick away from danger.

"When free-kicks come in and defenders are converging, the goalkeeper has no chance," said Ferguson.

"The delivery was so good.

"It was interesting there was no criticism of Joe Hart for our first goal, yet it was exactly the same type of goal.

"All it needs is a fraction of a touch and the goalkeeper is dead. If he comes for it, he ends up looking silly.

"De Gea will be fine. He will play on Sunday. That is the reason we spent #18million on him."

Ferguson reported the 20-year-old has made rapid progress with his English lessons and said goalkeeping coach Eric Steele is confident there will be no communication problems at The Hawthorns.

Patrice Evra is a major doubt to face Albion having been forced out of the Community Shield triumph with a knee injury, while he was not fit enough to play in France's midweek friendly with Chile.

Darren Fletcher (virus) and Antonio Valencia are pencilled in for reserve-team appearances on Monday, while Javier Hernandez (concussion) is sidelined for another fortnight.

United go into their opening fixture buoyed not only by their superb comeback at Wembley but the performances of so many young players.

Tom Cleverley, Danny Welbeck and Phil Jones are amongst those who will hope to play some part, while Ferguson also has high hopes for some even younger members of the United playing staff.

Teenage French midfielder Paul Pogba leads that group, helping to explain why United are not pursuing any interest in Dutch playmaker Wesley Sneijder.

The Inter Milan star is available and apparently wants to join United.

However, his personal demands have proved prohibitive and despite suggestions Sneijder was close to sealing a move away from Serie A, Ferguson insists he is not interested.

"I have been saying it for weeks," he said.

"Everyone has been writing differently. We are just carrying on with our business.

"You can forget anyone you like. I am happy with the young players I have got."

Speaking ahead of the visit of the league champions, West Brom boss Roy Hodgson has urged Albion to avoid becoming the latest victims of `second-season syndrome` in the Premier League.

Head coach Hodgson knows the expectation levels have been raised after 20 points in 12 games following his arrival in February saw Albion finish 11th in their first campaign back in the top flight.

But he is well aware of clubs failing to build on their initial taste of the Premier League.

Hodgson said: "When you finish a season well, as we did, you are concerned about whether you can start where you left off.

"Sometimes when things are going badly at the end of a season, you are pleased to see the end of it so you can start afresh.

"We did have a very good run, only lost two of the last 12 league games which is a good record for any Premier League team.

"We moved quite a few places up the table. As a result we have made a rod for our own back to some extent.

"People will expect more of us than had we avoided relegation on goal difference.

"But I can't stop preaching the most important thing is our second year in the Premier League - and everyone knows that is notoriously the most dangerous year after being promoted."

Hodgson added: "We have got to work very hard to make sure we stay in this league, continue to become a solid, reliable team and club and can then hope to build continually on a platform of success.

"I don't really mind where we finish at this moment in time.

"I'd like, of course, to finish as high as possible but if we are still in the Premier League, I'll be pretty pleased."

New signing Shane Long is poised to make his Baggies debut but forward partner Peter Odemwingie is struggling to overcome an ankle injury sustained in a friendly at Bristol City.

Right back Steven Reid (calf) and Youssouf Mulumbu (abdominal strain) are available after injury but summer signing, defender Gareth McAuley, is ruled out through illness.


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West Bromwich Albion
Joe Hart
David Silva
Edwin Van der Sar
Youssouf Mulumbu
Phil Jones
Premier League
Danny Welbeck
Manchester United
Patrice Evra
Darren Fletcher
Shane Long
Steven Reid
Gareth McAuley
Javier Hernandez
Peter Odemwingie
Antonio Valencia
Edin Dzeko
Tom Cleverley

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