Giggs has faith United will get back to future

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The Independent Football

Ryan Giggs is convinced the current Manchester United squad is capable of helping him to a ninth League title.

Giggs has appeared in all eight of United's championship-winning efforts during the Premiership era, part of an overall major medal haul that grew to 15 with last month's Carling Cup final win over Wigan, two behind the record of the former Liverpool captain Phil Neal.

While United look certain to miss out on the championship for a third successive year, the 32-year-old Wales internationnal is adamant that United's squad is capable of climbing back to the top of domestic football once more.

"We are definitely a team capable of winning a championship. There is no doubt we have the ability," he said.

Giggs feels United need to reproduce sort of battling display which brought them victory at Wigan last Monday. Sir Alex Ferguson's side stood firm in the face of a persistent Latics onslaught, then engineered an unlikely comeback which was completed by Pascal Chimbonda's injury-time own goal.

"Those are the sort of games that win you championships," Giggs said. "No team can play well all the time but five or six times a season you need to be able to grind out results in difficult games when you are not reaching the best of your ability.

"On Monday, we proved we can do that but maybe we need to do it a bit more often."

The major talking point ahead of today's visit of Newcastle will be whether Ferguson will selectRuud van Nistelrooy in his starting line-up. The Dutch striker missed training on Friday along with Darren Fletcher but is expected to be available to face Newcastle, against whom he boasts a fine scoring record of 11 goals in nine games.

However, Van Nistelrooy's appearance is not guaranteed as he has started United's last two games on the bench, much to his evident frustration. It is a situation most players at Old Trafford have experienced in the past, including Giggs, who admits Van Nistelrooy's only option is to work even harder on the training ground and make sure he delivers when Ferguson eventually recalls him.

"As a player, you want to be involved in every game. It is as simple as that," said Giggs. "But no one is guaranteed a place at a club like Manchester United.

"When you are not playing all you can do is train hard and when you get a chance, play as well as you can. It is what anyone should do when they are not in the team and think they should be."

Giggs has never appeared on a losing side against Newcastle at Old Trafford. Indeed they have not won there since 1972 and today's encounter is likely to represent the last chance Alan Shearer has of captaining the side which breaks that barren streak. Shearer is bound to receive a typically hostile reception from United fans who know he twice turned down their club's advances - but Giggs has nothing but respect for the former England captain.

"Alan can score any type of goal imaginable," he said. "Our fans usually give him some stick but we will have to look after him because he is their biggest threat."

Although United have enjoyed a six-day preparation for the game, they would have preferred the busier fixture list that comes with Champions' League involvement and Giggs admitted United got what they deserved from a dismal campaign which saw them eliminated from Europe before Christmas for the first time in a decade.

"It is frustrating not to be involved in the Champions' League but we are not," he said.