Scholes unhappy over his role at United

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The Independent Football

Speculation was mounting last night over the Old Trafford future of Paul Scholes. Manchester United's England international midfield player is unhappy about his role in the team this season and has expressed his concern to the manager, Sir Alex Ferguson.

United have changed their playing formation, especially in Champions' League matches, following the signings of Ruud van Nistelrooy and Juan Sebastian Veron. With Veron the first choice to play alongside Roy Keane in central midfield, Scholes has been asked to play in a new role as a withdrawn striker behind Van Nistelrooy, but has struggled to find form.

Scholes' decision to raise the issue with Ferguson has surprised those who know him, as he is one of United's most quiet and shy players. The fact that he is such an Old Trafford stalwart, who was brought through from the youth team by Ferguson, is likely to be of particular concern to the manager.

The affair came to a head when Scholes was left out of the team beaten by Liverpool in the Premiership on Sunday. It is understood he then asked not to be picked for the "reserve" team that played Arsenal in the Worthington Cup 24 hours later. United and Ferguson yesterday refused to discuss the situation, with the manager said to be furious it had become public.

While Scholes may have put his place in the United side at immediate risk, it seems inconceivable that such an important player would be allowed to leave. However, after Sunday's match Ferguson speculated, without naming names, that some senior players may have been at the club too long.

Scholes is said to be concerned both about his club role and the possible harm to his England career. His reluctance to play at Highbury was probably connected with the fact that he is with the England squad this week for Saturday's game against Sweden.

However, Sven Goran Eriksson said yesterday that Scholes would definitely be in Saturday's starting line-up. The England coach said he was not aware that United had wanted Scholes to play on Monday and added that he had been in good spirits during England training.

When asked about his current form, Eriksson said that all players went through good and bad spells. As for his display against Greece last month, Eriksson said a number of England players had under-performed.