Chelsea go into extra time over Rushden starlet

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The Independent Online

A 16-year-old Rushden and Diamonds player is to have a second trial at Chelsea. Paris Cowan-Hall spent time at Stamford Bridge before Christmas but the club is taking the youngster on for a further week.

Cowan-Hall, a forward, has already had a trial with Manchester United. A statement on the official website of the Nationwide Conference side said yesterday: "He is one of a number of promising youngsters at the club and a testament to all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes in the youth department."

Meanwhile, Chelsea midfielder Joe Cole is determined to return from his foot injury to help his team challenge on four fronts this season - but is wary of putting a timescale on his recovery.

The 25-year-old suffered knee problems earlier in the season and has only played in 12 games in the campaign - 11 for Chelsea and once for England - as Jose Mourinho's squad has been hit by injuries.

John Terry, the captain, has only just returned after a back injury which led to a loss of power in his calf, and Cole wants to take his time over a comeback. "Everything is going to plan and, providing there are no setbacks, I will be back this season," said Cole.

"I don't want to put any date on it because I saw what happened with John Terry. I am working hard and doing everything I am told. I am really looking forward to coming back at the important end of the season and helping us win some trophies."

Cole no longer requires a protective boot and is set to start weight-bearing exercises, but is still using crutches. He added: "As a player you have a certain amount of games in you and what I am missing now I believe I will get back in my 30s, hopefully still at Chelsea and winning trophies."

Michael Carrick insists that he is not bothered about his lack of goals for Manchester United. So far, Carrick has contributed just a single goal to United's quest for silverware, scoring in last month's Premiership home win over Aston Villa.

Despite playing fewer games, Darren Fletcher, Park Ji Sung and John O'Shea have managed two each, while central defender Nemanja Vidic has weighed in with four during an outstanding first full season in England.

But Carrick, who has never been regarded as a free-scoring midfielder even going back to his West Ham days, is content to make his contribution in other areas.

"If we were struggling and needed to score goals, maybe I would be a little bit more concerned about the need to chip in," the 25-year-old said. "But we have a nice balance at the moment. Everyone else has been scoring pretty freely over the past month so the goals situation does not really bother me. I have other jobs to do, so it is not much of a concern at all."

After suffering ankle ligament damage during a pre-season encounter with Ajax in Amsterdam, Carrick endured a slow start to life at Old Trafford following his £18.6m summer move from Tottenham. However, the Wallsend-born player has now found his feet and has forged a productive partnership with Paul Scholes in the United engine room.

Although Carrick is loathe to highlight just how far he has moved forward since quitting White Hart Lane, there is no doubt he is a far more accomplished player now and is benefiting from playing in a side packed with world class talent. "I am improving," he said. "I wouldn't say there was a massive difference in the way I am playing compared to Spurs but there is one.

"I am just enjoying being part of this fantastic side. It feels like everyone is playing unbelievably well, so it is understandable I have a lot of confidence. It makes it a lot easier to pick people out because you have so many options."

Carrick should be involved on Saturday when United look to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals at the expense of Reading at Old Trafford. Wayne Rooney is suspended for the clash with Steve Coppell's high-flyers but Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to return from the virus which ruled him out of the weekend victory over Charlton.

Manchester United are expecting a request from Aston Villa, who are seeking advice about how Paul Scholes recovered from his blurred vision because Villa's Chris Sutton continues to struggle to recover from a similar setback.

Scholes was sidelined for the final five months of last season but has returned to play a major part in the Red Devils' bid for Premiership title glory.

Sutton has been out of action since the clash with United at Villa Park on 23 December and there has been little improvement in his condition.The 33-year-old would be prepared to play sooner rather than later if there were assurances his condition would not deteriorate should he receive another blow to the head - but they cannot be given.

The Villa manager Martin O'Neill said: "I think Paul Scholes and his situation is something that we should have a look at. Maybe we should find out a bit more about that particular injury and see if that will be of benefit to us regarding Chris' condition."

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