Man Utd v West Brom - LIVE
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Hernandez is back to best - Ferguson
Sir Alex Ferguson believes Javier Hernandez has rediscovered his debut season form.
The Mexican took his tally to 10 goals for the campaign with his last-minute winner in Manchester United's Boxing Day thriller with Newcastle.
It is exactly half the number Hernandez recorded in that stellar first season at Old Trafford, a figure he was unable to match last term when he only found the net on 12 occasions.
With Wayne Rooney missing, Hernandez filled in brilliantly, tormenting the Newcastle defence on numerous occasions, and coming close three times before finally getting on the end of Michael Carrick's cross to seal a momentous win.
The 24-year-old's display merely underlined how much Hernandez has benefited from a complete summer's rest after Ferguson blocked his call-up to the gold medal-winning Olympic squad.
"He has been doing it all season," said Ferguson.
"Every time Javier has played he has contributed. He has got 10 goals now and that is despite not playing every week.
"On Wednesday he could have scored four or five."
Yet, even with Wayne Rooney absent with a knee injury, Hernandez cannot be guaranteed a start against West Brom at Old Trafford on Saturday.
Ferguson is concerned about the draining effects a sticky pitch on Wednesday may have on a striker who relies on his explosive pace.
"Javier must have run about 20 miles against Newcastle," said Ferguson. "He never stopped."
Ferguson expects to have alternatives, with both Ashley Young and Danny Welbeck likely to be fit after missing the Newcastle encounter through injury and illness respectively.
There is also a possibility Shinji Kagawa will be involved too as the former Borussia Dortmund playmaker steps up his recovery from a knee injury.
Ferguson needs to get his team selection right because West Brom have not given the impression of being a team likely to cough up goals as easily as Newcastle did.
Many pundits' tips for relegation, the Baggies have responded to Steve Clarke's first managerial role more positively than seemed likely.
"We have to look at West Brom in a different way since Steve Clarke has gone there," said Ferguson.
"It is his first spell as a manager but he had fantastic experience as an assistant at various clubs, Newcastle, West Ham, Chelsea, Liverpool and has gathered a lot of great knowledge from working with great managers like Bobby Robson and Jose Mourinho.
"West Brom's performance level has been terrific and the interesting thing about their team selection the other day is that they left out two of their best players - Peter Odemwingie and Shane Long - for tomorrow's game.
"It tells you the trust and confidence he has in the players he picks. They are playing good football and are just a couple of points off the top four, so it will be a good test for us."
Keith Downing insists West Brom are not surprised by their impressive form during the first half of the season as he hailed the "seamless" transition under Steve Clarke after the Roy Hodgson era.
The Baggies are lying in sixth spot in the Barclays Premier League after 19 games, having collected 33 points ahead of the trip to Old Trafford.
Assistant-boss Downing, sitting in after Clarke took to his sickbed due to the virus that has disrupted West Brom's preparations, said: "I think we've surprised a few people. I don't think we've surprised ourselves.
"It's been a work in progress the last two or three years. The club has worked exceptionally hard behind the scenes.
"The players have been collected and there has been a real strengthening of the squad. It's been built up over the years.
"I don't think it has surprised us from within. Thirty-three points at the half-way stage is a fantastic return for a club like us.
"We have to reset the goals. We are still looking at 40 points and people will raise eyebrows at that, but that's our prime objective, to stay up for another season.
"Then we can assess things again once we get to 40 points but we are not jumping ahead of ourselves and we've got a lot of people with their feet on the ground."
Illness aside, West Brom have a trio of fresh injury doubts.
Defenders Jonas Olsson (groin) and Goran Popov (hamstring) and midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu (hamstring) all sustained injuries during the Boxing Day win at QPR.
Another midfielder in Claudio Yacob (hamstring) remains sidelined and as a result Albion have recalled George Thorne from his loan spell at Peterborough.
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