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United Ready for Schalke Challenge

Hernandez will be hoping to celebrate in Germany

Manchester United will be looking for a secure first leg lead in their visit to Germany to take on Schalke 04.

United come off the back of a much needed win in the Premier League against Everton. Arsenal’s failure to win away at Bolton Wanderers has virtually handed United a 19th title in the top flight of English football.

Sir Alex Ferguson will be picking his strongest side for the Champions League tie and there are no major injury concerns or suspensions. Edwin Van Der Sar will play in goal behind a defence that should consist of both Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic in the middle.

Patrice Evra will play down the left of the defence while one of the Da Silva brothers or John O’Shea will play down the right. O’Shea could be the slightly better option as he has slightly more experience in this sort of fixture and is a little fitter than the two younger Brazilians.

Nani will take his place on one side of the midfield because he is one of the attacking players in the team who can produce something out of nothing. He hasn’t shown this in the last few games but a Nani shot could ultimately turn out to be the difference during a tight and tense game.

Ryan Giggs could be tucked just inside to play from a more central role with Park Ji-Sung out on the other wing. Park is a very fit player who can offer a lot of extra protection to the full back. Michael Carrick will partner whoever else plays in central midfield and will play the anchor role just in front of the back four.

Ferguson seems to like the combination of Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez in attack and there seems very little reason to change. Rooney can drop off and play in a five man midfield if Schalke are coming on strongly and he can also utilise the space that is created by Hernandez’s pace.

Hernandez is growing in his role at the club all the time and he will play on the very shoulder of the Schalke defence. If there is even the slightest hint of a chance in behind then the Mexican will be onto it in a flash. He’s up there with Nani as probably the quickest player in the team and this will put Schalke on the back foot.

Owen Hargreaves will play no part in the game as Ferguson has already confirmed that the midfielder will play no further part in this season. Darren Fletcher could make the substitutes bench after a lengthy spell out with injury and Paul Scholes may also feature after being out of the side through a domestic suspension.

The conditions are set for a classic Manchester United European away performance.

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