Starting hopes

Friday 28 December 2001

Manchester United's David Beckham and Fulham's Steve Marlet have something in common ahead of Sunday's big Premiership clash at Craven Cottage - both are hoping to start the game...

England star Beckham has been rested in recent weeks playing the roll of substitute for the Red Devils. He hopes to get into the starting line up against Fulham but Sir Alex Ferguson has hinted he may be reluctant to tinker too much with a winning side.

Beckham was only on the bench at Goodison Park but came on 12 minutes into the second half in place of Nicky Butt. The England captain has not started a game since the 3-0 defeat by Chelsea on December 1st and may have to be content with a substitute's role yet again at Craven Cottage with United winning their fourth consecutive Premiership match on Merseyside.

The United boss said: "I've had to pick a team that's winning. Players like David Beckham and Ryan Giggs have sat out and Paul Scholes was suspended. Now I have to try and think about a team for Sunday's game at Fulham."

Meanwhile, Whites French international Steve Marlet made a successful comeback on Thursday afternoon playing 50 minutes for Fulham's reserve team. Despite missing a penalty Marlet looked sharp and could be a surprise inclusion to the Fulham squad after they've failed to find the back of the net in recent weeks.

However Fulham Boss Jean Tigana may decide the United game has come a bit to early for Marlet who's fitness could prove crucial to the Cottagers as they approach the second half of their season.