Neville's new calf injury raises old fears for United

Click to follow
The Independent Football

The anxieties Manchester United had been nursing about Gary Neville's future 18 months after he limped out of a match against Bolton were reawakened yesterday by news that the defender has picked up a calf strain in training and will miss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's testimonial against Espanyol at Old Trafford today.

The United club captain had looked comfortable in the 2-0 win over Aberdeen at Pittodrie last month and seemed to have shaken off the ankle and groin trouble which had limited him last season to a nine-minute cameo at the end of the United's Champions League quarter-final second leg at home to Roma. Sir Alex Ferguson hopes Neville will be fit to face Juventus on Wednesday, though training injuries have been a recurring symptom of the 33-year-old's struggle for fitness.

The United manager said last week that Neville had looked ready for a return. "It's amazing and says a lot about the lad and his determination to come back after such a long lay-off," Ferguson said. "He's been looking great in training.

"He must have been gutted missing out on last season's successes," he added, "but I was pleased because he still played his part, he was always in with the players encouraging and got involved with everyone around the team. He was a terrific influence, even though he wasn't playing matches."

Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick are both expected to shake off viruses for today's game, which is scheduled to feature a 20-minute cameo at the end from Solskjaer.