Ferguson banks on Cole's firepower

Clive White looks at British clubs' European prospects
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The Independent Online
Alex Ferguson will trust that Andy Cole can provide Manchester United with the punch in attack that was patently lacking last Saturday at Hillsborough when the pounds 7m man returns tonight at Old Trafford to a side needing victory against Rotor Volgograd if they are progress to the second round of the Uefa Cup.

Cole has missed four matches - including the first-leg trip to Russia - since damaging a hamstring in the 3-2 win at Everton. Roy Keane, who injured his hamstring in the first game, could also feature after also coming through a training session yesterday.

Ferguson feels Cole's explosive pace and eye for a half-chance, however, is the key. "Andy's more likely to play because of the goal situation, although we're looking at an hour or 70 minutes from him," said Ferguson, whose plans have been affected by a knee injury that makes Dennis Irwin a doubtful starter.

Irwin's injury means Ferguson could draft in Philip Neville, whose older brother Gary is definitely ruled out with a thigh injury which will see Paul Parker start. Otherwise he may deploy Lee Sharpe in defence.

The seismic shock of York's amazing Coca-Cola Cup win at Old Trafford last week evidently did not extend to Volgograd, with their coach, Victor Prokopenko, seemingly unaware of the defeat.

Robbie Fowler, who almost single-handedly accounted for Bolton last Saturday, could land a lone strike role at Anfield as Liverpool look to polish off their Uefa Cup rivals, Vladikavkaz, whom they lead 2-1 after the first leg.

A fortnight ago the manager, Roy Evans, sent pounds 8.5m Stan Collymore on a solo mission in Russia - and then saw Steve McManaman and Jamie Redknapp step forward to land spectacular, instinctive strikes. It would mean a place on the bench for both Collymore and Ian Rush with Michael Thomas drafted in as an extra midfielder, as he was in the first game.

Leeds' rivals Monaco, who trail 3-0 after Tony Yeboah's heroics in the first leg, remain confident, Brazilian striker Sonny Anderson stressing that "technically we are the better team".

French goalkeeper Marc Delaroche, who was seriously injured in the first game in a collison with his team-mate, Basile Boli, is still having problems with his neck injury and will be out for another two weeks after collapsing in training last week. Boli, who awoke in hospital thinking it was half- time, will play.

Nottingham Forest, who are unbeaten in 20 Premiership games but have lost their last four cup-ties, are banking on Bryan Roy, their Dutchman, to pull the tie with Malmo - who lead 2-1 - out of the fire at the City Ground. Stuart Pearce is set to return but Kevin Campbell and David Phillips are still out.

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