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Sunderland V Man Utd at Stadium of Light : Match Preview
Published : 12 May 2012 15:13:20
Duo out for United.
Chris Smalling and Danny Welbeck will miss Manchester United's final Premier League game of the season at Sunderland. Smalling (groin) is set for a summer operation that will rule him out of Euro 2012, while Welbeck (ankle) has not recovered from the injury that he sustained during last month's Manchester derby. It means Phil Jones should start alongside Rio Ferdinand in central defence as United look for the win that would allow them to retain the title if Manchester City fail to beat QPR. Skipper Patrice Evra believes the key to a final title twist will be for the Red Devils to hit the front quickly at Sunderland. It looks like a hopeless cause given QPR have an abysmal record away from home, whilst City have only dropped two points at the Etihad Stadium this term and on their last outing secured a deserved triumph over the Red Devils. Yet Evra accepts United cannot just abandon all hope. And he feels if his side can get their noses in front, and secure the league leadership on a very temporary basis as City are still trying to break the deadlock, it may prove to be the start of a glorious day. "We cannot think about what Manchester City are doing," said Evra. "We just have to make sure we win. "The Sunderland game isn't easy but if we score first then maybe the City fans in the stadium will start to get nervous. "When you are nervous then you can rush things and you don't do things as well as you'd like." As Evra acknowledges, it is a long shot. But straw clutching is the only sport United have available to them now. "You have to believe," he said.
Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill has no fresh major injury concerns. Former United defender Wes Brown has returned to training following a lengthy lay-off with a knee problem dating back to the end of January, although the game is likely to come too soon for him. Centre-half Titus Bramble (Achilles) is likely to be included in the squad once again after making the bench at Fulham last week, but full-back Kieran Richardson and midfielder Sebastian Larsson (both hernia surgery) will miss out. Captain Lee Cattermole said: ""It's a great game to be involved in. Obviously, the position we are in in the league, there is nothing much for us to play for at the minute other than trying to finish in the top 10 if we can beat Manchester United. "But United have obviously got a title on the line and if Manchester City do slip up, United want to pounce, so it is going to be a competitive game."