Ferguson admits error over Van Nistelrooy

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The Independent Online

Ruud Van Nistelrooy is likely to avoid being dropped for the first time in his Manchester United career against Norwich City this evening, despite the manager Sir Alex Ferguson admitting that the Dutch forward is paying the price for returning to action too quickly following a three-month calf injury lay-off.

Ruud Van Nistelrooy is likely to avoid being dropped for the first time in his Manchester United career against Norwich City this evening, despite the manager Sir Alex Ferguson admitting that the Dutch forward is paying the price for returning to action too quickly following a three-month calf injury lay-off.

Van Nistelrooy has cut a forlorn figure since being thrust back into the first-team as a substitute during the Champions' League second-round first-leg defeat against Milan at the end of February. The £19m forward has failed to score in seven appearances since and has been substituted on his last two outings for United.

An incredible return of just four Premiership goals this season, three of which have come from the penalty spot, suggests that Van Nistelrooy's problems stretch back further than the past two months. However, with United needing victory at Carrow Road to sustain their hopes of clinching second spot behind Chelsea, Ferguson has handed the 28-year-old a vote of confidence.

Ferguson said: "Ruud will be all right. We need to keep him going now and he'll be fine, but strikers are only happy when they are scoring goals. Ruud is no different from any striker I have had and he is no different to how I was as a player. Even Denis Law missed a few chances in his day and had a couple of bad games.

"Strikers are strikers and they won't change. When they are scoring, they think they will never miss. But when they're not scoring, they worry that they are never going to score. Hopefully, Ruud can turn the corner and start scoring again."

Ferguson believes that he had no option but hurry the striker back into action when he was clearly still some distance off full match fitness. "We did the right thing bringing him back when we did," Ferguson claims. "It was worth the risk simply because of his record in Europe. That left us no choice, but we have possibly paid a penalty for it.

"It was too early. He was probably a couple of weeks away from a comeback, but he is not worried about the injury. There is no problem with that."

Roy Keane is set to be rested against Norwich in order to prevent the United captain from receiving a yellow card that would rule him out of next week's FA Cup semi-final against Newcastle. However, with Louis Saha back to full fitness and only Ryan Giggs unavailable, Ferguson is determined to see his strong United side seal victory at Carrow Road.

He said: "We are sending the cavalry down there because we need to win and the players know that. We want to finish second, so we have to win this game and also narrow Arsenal's goal difference advantage."

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