United must maintain momentum – Young
Ashley Young has urged his Manchester United teammates to carry the feel-good factor from an impressive performance against Bayern Munich into their clash with Newcastle on Saturday.
David Moyes’ side held their own against Champions League holders Bayern on Tuesday as they ground out a 1-1 draw which keeps them in with a chance of progressing to the last four in next week’s quarterfinal second leg in Germany.
After a traumatic season at Old Trafford, the possibility of salvaging some pride has lifted spirits and England winger Young is hopeful his side can maintain that upbeat mood when they return to domestic action at St James’ Park.
“We’ve got to keep the momentum going,” Young said. “We want to take three points from the weekend into the second leg against Bayern and then see how things go.
“I can’t wait to go to Munich, we’ve given ourselves a massive chance.
“We’re in with a great shout, and as long as we add to the performance we gave at Old Trafford, hopefully we can go through.”
United’s veteran midfielder Ryan Giggs has been a much-needed steadying influence of late and teammate Rafael da Silva insists he remains one of the club’s most dangerous attacking players, despite his advancing years.
The 40-year-old Welshman has combined a coaching role with playing at Old Trafford this season, and Moyes has been selective when using the midfielder.
Giggs has featured 21 times for United so far this campaign, but according to Rafael he still frightens opposition defences.
“Ryan is still hard to defend against,” Rafael said.
“Three years ago, it was unbelievably hard. He is still an incredible dribbler of the ball, cutting in and out, and it’s hard to work out what he is going to do.
“Sometimes you think he will dribble in one direction and then he shoots.”
United are hopeful Giggs will be available to face Newcastle after he was substituted during the Bayern match with a groin problem.
Moyes’ men are set to be without striker Robin van Persie who continues to recover from a knee injury, while there are doubts over defenders Jonny Evans (calf) and Chris Smalling (hamstring).
Rafael should also be fit enough to return against Newcastle after he missed the game against Bayern with a hamstring problem.
The 23-year-old was disappointed to sit out the match against the Bundesliga side, after claiming to be one of the fittest players at Old Trafford.
“Full-backs have to work even harder than other players,” he added.
“Because you have to run up and down the pitch. These days, football has changed and full-backs have to play like wing-backs.
“You must be fit enough to attack and defend.”
After ending a long winless run at Old Trafford with a 1-0 victory in December, Newcastle go in search of their first league double over United since 1931 as they look to respond following a comprehensive 4-0 defeat at Southampton.
Moussa Sissoko is the latest addition to their lengthy injury list, the midfielder ruled out for up to three weeks after returning to France for treatment on a hamstring problem.
Magpies boss Alan Pardew is also without 13-goal top scorer Loic Remy, defender Mathieu Debuchy and goalkeeper Tim Krul.
Italian full-back Davide Santon is set to return to the starting line up after illness and injury.
Pardew, who is still banned from the touchline for headbutting Hull’s David Meyler last month, said: “We’re all very much aware of the performance against Southampton not being good enough for this club. We want to put in a display that’s worthy of the fans.
“The bigger problem is a real injury crisis we’re having. We’ve lost Moussa this week, and of the team that started when we beat Manchester United this season, five will be missing this weekend.”