England Calling

Friday 18 March 2005

The exciting news had just unofficially filtered through that Fulham youngster Liam Rosenior was going to be named in the England U21 squad to play Germany and Azerbaijan.

The full back had been sitting down at Motspur Park to look forward to the upcoming Manchester United game, and even though the news should have been kept strictly under wraps, Rosenior couldn't resist expressing his pride at the call-up.

"It's a great honour for me," he said. "I still can't really believe it's going to happen. I've just been happy playing for Fulham, but if I'm producing the goods for them on the pitch, then you hope other things will follow and now it looks like they're going to."

As far as United are concerned, Rosenior is just thrilled at the prospect of playing at Old Trafford for the first time. If it goes anything like as well as it did when he made his first Premiership start for Fulham against them back in December, it really will be an occasion to be savoured.

"If I'm picked it will be an unbelievable experience to play at a stadium like Old Trafford," he said. "And to play there against United will be a dream come true, probably even more so than when I made my debut against them.

"It would be something special for both me and my family to play there. All the games I've played so far have been massive, but this one will be the biggest. Hopefully it will be a good game as well."

The view was ventured that, as well as picking up the man-of-the-match award, Rosenior had Cristiano Ronaldo in his pocket in the first game.

"I wouldn't say that!" Rosenior laughed. "You'd never say that about a player with his ability. I just enjoy watching him on the TV and try to learn from his skills. I think he's a wonderful talent and Saturday wouldn't be the same if he wasn't playing.

"To be honest, I look up to him and it would be a joy to play against him again.

"I was happy with the first game because he didn't get a cross in when he was on my side, and he can put such a good ball in that it can be a problem. If I play against him on Saturday I hope I can do the same.

"If you actually thought it was Ronaldo running against you it would be a hundred times worse. You've just got to concentrate on the ball and not watch his body movements or his step-overs. If you do that he'll be past you in a flash.

"He's got a ridiculous talent, I just don't know how he manages to do some of the things he does with a ball - things I've never seen before. That's why he's such a threat, because he's so unpredictable, you never know what he's going to do when he's on the ball.

"But hopefully, if I watch the ball and be patient against him I can come out on top."

Clearly, the one thing Rosenior isn't short of is self-belief, and the youngster is relishing the challenge on Saturday.

"You've got to think positively about things," he said. "When you run out onto a football pitch you've got to have belief in yourself, and to be honest, I think I'm good enough to handle those sort of situations.

"I want to play against players like Ronaldo, Giggs, Scholes; I want to play against players like that week-in, week-out. It was nice my debut went so well, but to me it wasn't a surprise.

"Since then I dropped out of the First Team for a bit, then I came back in at left back, and I was just delighted to get a chance. Since then I haven't been out of the side, and my aim is to stay there until the end of the season. If I keep my performances up I don't see any reason why that shouldn't happen.

"I just enjoy playing football and being out on the pitch. I count enthusiasm as one of my strengths; even if I make a mistake I still want the ball, because I think I can help the team if I have the ball.

"When you get an opportunity, you've just got to try and take it and enjoy the fact that you've been given a chance - that's what I did against United, I just enjoyed the fact I was out on the pitch with some of the best players in the world.

"I just don't understand how you could be out on the pitch and not want the ball.

"We're not safe from relegation yet, but we've got real quality here, a good manager and a good coach, and really we're looking to get into the top ten. Everything's to play for still and we could end up even better than last year.

"We've got to think positively. We must start with Man Utd on Saturday, believe we can get something from the game, and take it from there."

MANCHESTER UNITED TEAM NEWS

Sir Alex Ferguson is expected to stick with more or less the same side which won 4-0 at Southampton last weekend.

Ryan Giggs is again likely to miss out after being forced to have surgery on his nose to correct the damage inflicted on him by Gennaro Gattuso during the 1-0 defeat to Milan in the San Siro last week.

Phil Neville has recovered from his ankle injury, leaving Ferguson to decide whether to recall the England full-back or place his faith in Wes Brown, one of United's better performers in recent weeks.

Darren Fletcher and Klebersen are long term absentees, as is Norwegian striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Louis Saha is unlikely to feature due to a knee injury.