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Ronaldo desperate to be unleashed on Chelsea

SoccerNews in English Premier League 19 Sep 2008

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Cristiano Ronaldo is set to be thrust back into Manchester United's starting eleven at Chelsea on Sunday after pleading with Alex Ferguson to be handed the chance to tackle Luiz Felipe Scolari's table toppers.

Ronaldo returned to action as a last half-hour substitute for United in the Champions League draw against Villarreal in midweek after two months on the sidelines as a result of ankle surgery.

The Portuguese winger immediately injected quality into Ferguson's team and showed little sign of his injury lay-off as United toiled away against the Spanish outfit.

And with United desperate to bounce back in the Premier League following last Saturday's 2-1 defeat against Liverpool at Anfield, boss Ferguson admits that he has no concerns over Ronaldo's fitness for the crunch clash on Sunday.

He said: “Cristiano is a natural athlete and he has trained very well, so I would have no qualms about him playing against Chelsea.

“It is just a question as to whether this is the right time, but I have no fears about him and he is bursting to play. He has been nibbling at my ear all week.

“Whether this is a crunch game or not, I wouldn't like to say, but it is still big game for us because, when you play the big ones, you want to come away with a good haul.

“We did well against the Big Four last season, but with what happened at Liverpool last week, we have lost one of those big games already and we can't afford another one. I'm not worried about our performances, though and once October comes, we'll be fine.”

United could fall nine points behind Chelsea if they lose at Stamford Bridge — a huge lead to concede at such an early stage of the season.

But Ferguson insists that his team — set to be boosted by the return of Paul Scholes and Dimitar Berbatov — has the ability to emerge victorious from west London this weekend.

He said: “This is not a test of character because the character of my team is well established. It is just another game for us to bounce back from a defeat.

“We just have to make sure we come away with something from Chelsea. They are unbeaten there for seventy-odd games in the league, so there is the challenge for us.

“People aren't expecting us to win, which is unusual for Manchester United, so we will just get on with it.”

Meanwhile, United goalkeeper Ben Foster is facing up to two months on the sidelines after damaging ankle ligaments in a reserve outing against Blackburn on Thursday.

The England goalkeeper has only recently returned to action after a ten-month cruciate ligament injury lay-off.

Ferguson said: “Ben has had no luck at all. He came down on his ankle and injured his ligaments, so he is looking at 6-8 weeks out.

“The only good thing is that this injury is nothing to do with his last one. Ben is a top keeper and I just hope he gets a lucky break somewhere down the line.”

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