Spector lifts Ferguson's spirits

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The Independent Football

Tim Howard, the New Yorker expected to be the big local attraction for the second year running on Manchester United's summer tour to the United States, may end up spending less time on the pitch than one of his countrymen.

Tim Howard, the New Yorker expected to be the big local attraction for the second year running on Manchester United's summer tour to the United States, may end up spending less time on the pitch than one of his countrymen.

With the three goalkeepers on the trip being given one full game each, Howard is not scheduled to appear until Saturday on his old stamping ground, Giants Stadium, where he first came to United's attention with the New York/New Jersey Metrostars. His compatriot, the 18-year-old Jonathan Spector, has already clocked up 90 minutes and may be called on again, such is his promise and the Premiership club's shortage of players here.

Just as Howard wowed his home crowd on his United debut against Juventus in New Jersey a year ago - and impressed Sir Alex Ferguson with his coolness and handling in front of 79,000 fans - so Spector was the main attraction before another large crowd of 58,121 in Sunday's goalless draw with Bayern Munich, which the German side (as German sides do) won on penalties.

Spector can share the credit for keeping the game scoreless despite facing a side full of internationals; all the more so as he was asked to fill an unfamiliar role. "I've played all over, including midfield and forward but obviously Sir Alex Ferguson believes I'm best at the back and I think central defence is my best position," he said. It had been the intention to play him there, next to Roy Keane, but Bayern used Roy Makaay as a lone striker and they switched to a back three with Spector further to the left.

"He had a difficult task today and coped with that very well," Ferguson said. "He'll be very pleased." Spector added: "Roy Keane is a fantastic player and he communicates and helped me out. It'd be great to play some more with the first team. If I do, it'll be fantastic but if not, I still have some time ahead of me."

Ferguson has promised to put a stronger side out tomorrow against Celtic in Philadelphia. He has the Neville brothers and Wes Brown available, none of whom appeared against Bayern.

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