Fletcher sends Valencia a recovery message
Darren Fletcher is confident Antonio Valencia will still have a big future at United. Valencia was in hospital yesterday having an operation to reset his ankle after he suffered an horrific injury during the Champions League draw with Rangers at Old Trafford. Sir Alex Ferguson has already admitted he does not expect Valencia to be available for the remainder of the season and likened the injury to that which Alan Smith suffered in similarly freakish circumstances against Liverpool in 2006. Arguably Smith has not been the same player since. But, as he came to terms with watching Valencia being carried off on a stretcher wearing an oxygen mask to ease the pain the gruesome sight so bad Sky did not show a replay of the incident Fletcher is holding out more hope for the Ecuador star. It looked really bad, he said. Hopefully, the scans show it is not as bad as we fear. After arriving from Wigan he had a great first season and was looking to push on. That's why the injury is a blow. "He has only just got back from the one he suffered at the end of last season. But he is a strong character and a good lad, who has real determination, and I am sure he will be back. Aside from the injury itself and Valencia's recovery time, it leaves Ferguson with a problem so soon after the transfer window closed. With games piling up, starting with Sunday's clash against Liverpool, United are left with only three orthodox wingers, one of whom is the largely untested Gabriel Obertan, and another, Ryan Giggs, who cannot be expected to feature in every game just two months short of his 37th birthday. Park Ji-sung, Javier Hernandez and even Fletcher himself are capable of operating in that area but are not natural wide-men, with so much now resting on Nani if United are to keep pace with Premier League title favourites Chelsea. A bit of work is required in Europe after the Rangers result, with Fletcher joining his manager in believing the 10 changes played no part in the result. There were not too many changes, said the Scotland skipper. We have a big squad and everyone has a lot of ability. It is difficult for the players coming in because they don't have that match sharpness. But training is intense and everyone is good enough to play in this team. Fletcher also has no fears for striker Wayne Rooney. United's hitman has been at the centre of huge turmoil in his personal life just as he was emerging from a slump in his professional one. A long-awaited goal against West Ham, then two eye-catching displays for England either side of tabloid allegations, signalled a return to the form that saw him score 34 times for the Reds last season. But Fergie left Rooney out of the weekend trip to Everton to save him from the abuse expected to rain down from the Goodison Park stands and, against a Rangers side committed solely to defence, he barely had a sight of goal. But Fletcher said: There is nothing to worry about over Wayne. He is a top player and the goals will come because he has so much quality. It is up to us create the chances for him and give him the opportunities to score. Maybe we have not done that lately. Against Rangers we didn't create anything for him. He will be frustrated with that but it will come. United could do with Rooney fully focused and ready to cause some havoc, especially at a time when the manager is having to cope with the loss of a key man."
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