Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez ready to embrace Europa League

 

It might be a Thursday night on Channel Five - but Manchester United's clash with Ajax does sound like a Champions League game.

Striker Javier Hernandez accepts the Red Devils would have preferred to be in the premier UEFA competition this week.

However, if they are to make their Europa League bow, there are few more famous names to do it against than the Dutch giants, who, with four European Cups to their name, have one more than the Red Devils.

"Both teams have come out of the Champions League and they both have a great history," said Hernandez.

"We have won a lot of European Cups between us, so it will be a very interesting game.

"We need to get used to the fact we are not in the Champions League this season.

"And the history of Manchester United is such that it doesn't matter which competition you are in, we want to win it, no matter who else is in it, or whether it is an important trophy for other teams."

That Manchester City are potential opponents in the quarter-finals and beyond does give this European excursion added spice, even if a failure to beat Benfica or Basle in any of four group matches is not European form to get anyone worrying too much.

And, having maintained closer contact to City in the Premier League than most pundits expected on the night of that debacle in Switzerland, Sir Alex Ferguson may well take the opportunity to rest some key men before the domestic campaign resumes at Norwich on February 26.

That could offer an opportunity for Hernandez, whose appearances this term have been limited due to a combination of injury and Danny Welbeck's outstanding form.

"It has been a little bit frustrating because I have been injured a lot," he said.

"But there are some things you can't do anything about.

"I am happy and I am still enjoying it. It is a privilege to play for Manchester United, whether things are going good or bad, I want to keep that attitude."

It is the kind of unselfishness Ferguson adores.

And Hernandez is genuinely delighted at Welbeck's emergence.

"Danny Welbeck is a brilliant player," he said.

"He is only young but he went to Sunderland and did great things there. Then he came back here and has been unbelievable.

"That doesn't upset me, competition is normal at a club like this.

"You need to be at your best to help the team. That is the most important thing."

PA

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