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Saturday, 1 November 2008

Kuszczak Trying To Make The Most Of Every Opportunity

It was a bitter-sweet outing for Tomasz Kuszczak against West Ham on Wednesday night as the scramble to get in Manchester United's goal turns into a crush.

With Ben Foster fit again and Edwin van der Sar showing no sign of relinquishing his status as United number one despite celebrating his 38th birthday, Kuszczak knows his opportunities to impress are going to be limited.

So, having been drafted into Sir Alex Ferguson's starting line-up for Wednesday night's encounter with West Ham at Old Trafford, the Poland international might have hoped to be more than a virtual bystander in a cruise for the home side.

"It is not easy when you have nothing to do, but that is how it is for a goalkeeper. You have to try hard to keep your concentration for 90 minutes. You need to do your job properly and keep a clean sheet. This is most important thing for a goalkeeper and of course very important for the team as well. It was a big day for me because I have not played for a few weeks. I hope I get another chance soon. Saturday ? Why not ?"

In truth, Van der Sar is almost certain to get his place back for the weekend visit of Hull. As luck would have it, the only other occasion the veteran Dutchman failed to make United's starting line-up this season, neither Kuszczak nor Foster were fit, with Ferguson handing Ben Amos a senior debut in the Carling Cup against Middlesbrough.

Ferguson has pencilled Foster in to play at Celtic next Wednesday, with the League Cup tie with QPR six days later offering another opportunity for one of van der Sar's deputies.

"They will all get their minutes on the clock, we have to manage the situation with Edwin because he is 38. At that age, we don't need him to play every game because we have two very capable goalkeepers in Tomasz and Ben. Having Ben fit again is an enormous boost to us because he is an outstanding goalkeeper."

Indeed, Ferguson has previously stated he rates Foster as England's best goalkeeper, an opinion the 25-year-old would surely have been able to put to the test if he had not spent the last 18 months on the treatment table, first with a cruciate knee ligament injury, then an ankle problem.

Foster has already proved his talent in two spells at Watford, so it is hardly a surprise Harry Redknapp should be thinking about getting him to Tottenham. However, such a move would be tantamount to an admission of failure by Ferguson, which appears unlikely at this stage. It is a delicate balancing act for Fergie, who handed Kuszczak a two-year contract extension last month that will keep him at United until 2012, especially as van der Sar remains hungry as ever.

"The hunger is still there to win as many trophies as possible," said the 'keeper whose penalty save from Nicolas Anelka won United the Champions League last season. You know when you come to a club like this you will be challenging for trophies and we have been lucky enough to win a few over the last few years."

The three-way battle is mirrored at right-back where Wes Brown, Gary Neville and teenage gatecrasher Rafael are competing for a single spot, while midfield presents a problem now Michael Carrick has recovered from ankle and foot injuries and made a substitute appearance against the Hammers. There is also the conundrum up front where, it seems Carlos Tevez, Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov are fighting it out for only two spaces.

"Three players just won't fit into two positions," reflected Fergie, "I could play all three," he added. It may lack balance at times but Rooney could play anywhere so it is an option." .....Back To Home Page

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