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United first for Fletcher

05 Aug 2009 14:44:50

United first for Fletcher

BATTLING midfielder Darren Fletcher is refusing to be left behind in the race for first team places at United. And yesterday he rejected a plea from Scotland boss George Burley to sit out Sunday's Community Shield match against Chelsea. Burley was desperate to secure the early release of Fletcher for next Wednesday's crucial World Cup qualifier in Norway. The Scotland boss had been in discussions with the player and United boss Sir Alex Ferguson over the issue, but Fletcher did not want to jeopardise his place in the pecking order at Old Trafford. After naming his 23-man squad for the Group Nine clash in Oslo, Burley confirmed Fletcher would be his captain in the absence of Celtic's Stephen McManus. He will now be praying the 25-year-old steers clear of injury at Wembley this weekend, having already lost a number of midfielders for next week's showdown. Fletcher will fly to Scotland to link up with the squad shortly after Sunday's game. The majority of the party will convene on Thursday, but the seven Coca-Cola Championship players selected will be on club duty this weekend and will join their international team-mates on Sunday. Quality Meanwhile, United midfielder Michael Carrick is convinced Michael Owen and Luis Antonio Valencia will make their mark at Old Trafford. Former Newcastle striker Owen has quickly found his scoring touch with four goals in five games on tour in Asia and Germany after his shock free transfer move. Valencia, who arrived from Wigan in the summer, showed his quality last week in the Audi Cup by finding the target against Boca Juniors. Ferguson's side return to Old Trafford action tonight when they entertain Valencia in a friendly and Carrick said: "Michael has already done really well. He is a top player and I am sure he will score lots of goals for us. "Antonio joined us a little later for training so I have only seen a bit of him so far. "But he's already shown what great qualities he has and I'm sure he will be a huge success in the coming season." Carrick expects a good test from the Spanish side with the Community Shield date against Chelsea to follow. He said: "It will allow us to gauge where we're at and look at the things that need tweaking or working on before the season gets underway. "There is no better place to do that than in front of our own fans at Old Trafford. "Valencia are a top side and I am sure it will be an entertaining match." What do you think? Tell us your thoughts


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