Bruce ready to keep up the pressure

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The Independent Online
The Manchester United captain, Steve Bruce, returns to add experience to his team's vital championship match with Southampton tonight, vowing: "We want to take it into the weekend."

The Old Trafford side know they have to win to retain any hope of overhauling Blackburn and completing a hat-trick of titles. Even then they would have to win at West Ham on Sunday and hope that Rovers slip up at Liverpool.

But the 34-year-old Bruce, who returns in place of Sunday's goal-scoring hero against Sheffield Wednesday, David May, after missing two matches with a twisted nerve in his back, is determined to keep the double Double dream alive.

"It's imperative that we win," Bruce said. "What you can be certain of is that we're going to go out and be positive, and hopefully that means we'll do enough to get the right result. If we can do that and take it up to the final day, then that would really be something special. It would certainly make it very interesting, and we know that anything could happen on the final day."

The Blackburn manager, Kenny Dalglish, has talked about his side being the "people's champions", but Bruce, who has great sympathy for the injured May, thinks that at least football fans in general will be urging the champions on tonight.

"I'm sure all the neutral supporters will want it to go to the last day, because that would be something quite incredible," Bruce said. "Over the last few years it's been tied up before the last games, and the fact that we've taken it so far is a credit to everybody involved here.

"After we failed to beat Chelsea the other week it didn't look good, but then Manchester City did us a favour that night. We can all look back and wonder 'if only', but there's no point."

Bruce's return is one of two changes in the United line-up, the other seeing Nicky Butt returning for Paul Scholes in midfield. Ryan Giggs is still ruled out with a tight hamstring.

But while United will be going all-out for victory, the Southampton manager, Alan Ball, has no intention of sending his team out merely as extras at a show put on for the Old Trafford fans.

The Saints have lost just one of their last nine games while moving from the relegation zone up to 10th in the Premiership, and Ball promised his team would go out to entertain.

"Alex knows we won't be going out to destroy the situation or play defensively because we'll have a go at them," Ball said. "It's a great stage and a mouthwatering prospect, and one thing you can be certain of is that we'll make it into a football match."

Ball is hopeful that Matthew Le Tissier, who missed Saturday's goalless draw at Everton with a heel injury, will be fit to return to the side.

Le Tissier, who has scored 28 goals so far this season, travelled to Old Trafford with the Southampton squad yesterday, and Ball added: "The rest has done Matt good. It's helped him, but we'll leave the decision up to Matt himself. He'll have a fitness test before the game, and then we'll see how he is."

If he is fit, Le Tissier will return in place of Tommy Widdrington, and Ball also adds the former Arsenal and England Under-21 winger, Neil Heaney, who has been out for two weeks with a calf-muscle strain, to his squad.

n The former Wales manager, Terry Yorath, said yesterday that he had signed a contract with the Lebanese football association to train their national side. Yorath said he had signed an 18-month deal, and his role was to prepare the national side for the 1996 Pan Arab Games in Beirut as well as the Asian Cup the same year.