Amos prepared for the biggest game of his life

 

Goalkeeper Ben Amos is ready to face the Stamford Bridge cauldron if required by Manchester United on Sunday.

After Sir Alex Ferguson endured a "nightmare" on Monday, when both Anders Lindegaard and David de Gea were ruled out, Amos was thrust into the first team for Tuesday's Premier League win over Stoke City.

Now attention turns to the weekend when, after joining Manchester City at the top of the Premier League, United must try and stay there by beating Chelsea on their own ground in a top-flight game for the first time since 2002.

Although Ferguson did not offer an update on Lindegaard or De Gea, neither man was included in a list of those who have a chance of being fit for the weekend, which means Amos looks likely to be plunged into the biggest game of his life.

"I have been waiting a long time for an opportunity this season and thankfully it has come," said the 21-year-old after the Stoke game. "I feel I am ready to play at this level and it has been kind of frustrating that these chances don't come around. But you have to be ready when something like that happens and you are thrown straight in and I like to think I made the most of it."

In truth, Amos did not have much to do. The only time he was tested was from a Cameron Jerome header, which he smothered at the second attempt.

However, the fact he did not force himself into the action was a good sign as, just as a striker may snatch at chances because he knows they must be taken, so goalkeepers can underperform by trying to create work when there is none.

"In a sense I wanted more to do but then there is a temptation to go and chase things," he said. "You see a lot of keepers with not much experience who try and make an impact, which there is no need to do. That is what I had in my head and I think I got that right."

An outfield player in his youth, Amos only became a goalkeeper at his local Bollington club in Macclesfield because his junior team were short of players one day and he was the tallest option.

Amos went on to Crewe, before joining United's academy. After spending half a season on loan at Oldham last year, it was anticipated Amos would spend more time away from Old Trafford this year. Instead, he has remained at the club and featured in all three of United's Carling Cup matches this season.

"All I can do is keep a clean sheet and play the best I can when I get a chance," said Amos. "You have to do the best you can. It is the manager who makes the decisions and all I can do is put pressure on the other two any chance I get."

Such is the scrutiny surrounding De Gea following his below-par weekend display at Liverpool that the Spaniard's absence may have been a blessing in disguise.

Wayne Rooney (ankle), Nani (foot) and Ashley Young (hip) all have a chance of being available this weekend, according to Ferguson, meaning United may be in a position to put more pressure on Manchester City, who were beaten on Tuesday night by Everton, thanks to a goal from United old-boy Darron Gibson.

"Part of the plan," said Ferguson, with a beaming smile. "It was a nice boost. All the lads are really pleased for Darron. It will be March time before all will be revealed in the league but we are on City's coat-tails and we aim to keep it that way."

Ferguson is still hopeful of retaining young midfielder Paul Pogba. The 18-year-old made his Premier League debut against Stoke as Ferguson opted to give Pogba some valuable experience. It was a significant move on the day the highly rated but wayward Ravel Morrison quit for West Ham and comes at a time when United are trying to persuade Pogba to sign a new contract.

Italian giants Juventus are among the clubs who have expressed an interest in the French teenager, whom Ferguson has previously advised to stay and be patient at United, rather than opt for the lure of quick money elsewhere.

And the United manager confirmed talks were continuing, with hopes of a positive resolution. "Pogba did very well," Ferguson said. "The boy has great talent and tremendous physique for an 18-year-old. You can't believe it. We are negotiating his contract at the moment.

"It is a bit complicated because he has changed his agent a couple of times. But the boy wants to stay, that is obvious. Hopefully we can get it done soon."

The Match of the Day pundit Alan Hansen has defended himself against criticism from Sir Alex Ferguson. In his programme notes for the Stoke match, Ferguson condemned Hansen's assessment of his team, claiming Hansen had said United had not played well for 18 months. Ferguson added Hansen would end up with egg on his face, just as he did when declaring: "You never win anything with kids" on his first viewing of the team containing Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and David Beckham that went on to dominate the English game

Hansen denied he had said what Ferguson accused him of. "I really don't know where that has come from," he said. "I never said that at any stage. What I said was that, over a period of 18 months, they haven't been as good as they have been in the past.

"I have also said that if you take the three teams at the top, Manchester United have consistently played worse than Tottenham and Manchester City. But it is to their credit that they are where they are and they will be the team to beat.

"In 1995, I said you can't win anything with kids. In 2012, I never said you can't win anything if you are hopeless."

PA

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