Curbs looking to take advantage

Alan Curbishley had positive news on several players ahead of the visit of Portsmouth as he looked forward to the chance to put pressure on the teams just above in the Barclays Premier League standings.

With Manchester City and Blackburn Rovers both dropping points, United can close to within two and four points respectively with a home win at the Boleyn Ground on Tuesday. Reviewing the players coming back since the 2-1 defeat at Sunderland on 29 March, Curbishley said: "We had a few come out of the Sunderland game. George McCartney has trained since so we are hopeful he is OK, Matty Upson has trained the last couple of days, Freddie Sears has trained the last three or four days. Johnny Pantsil has recovered from concussion ... Bobby Zamora has been training all week."


The manager added that Freddie Ljungberg's hamstring injury suffered at the Stadium of Light would keep him out this midweek while fellow midfielders Lee Bowyer, Kieron Dyer and Julien Faubert are all looking to next season. There is though a possibility that Matthew Etherington and Craig Bellamy [both abdominal] could return before the end of the campaign. With the likes of Sears, and fellow youngsters James Tomkins and Jack Collison, likely to get more action under their belts in the next month, Curbishley is focused on the positives.

Sensing the chance for his tenth-placed team to make up ground on the pack just ahead, he said: "We just have to get on with it as we have done all season and we are looking forward to it. We have had a bit of a break. It is amazing again that we haven't played and we find ourselves where we are again but we have got to take advantage of it. We have got to get a result and we will put some pressure on Man City if we can do that.

"We have got six games left with four at home," the manager added. "We are hoping to do as well as we can. We need to pick some results up. We have had a bad run of late but obviously we want to finish the season strongly. I have got one eye definitely on who is going to be available before we start thinking about anything else [this summer].

"We know that James Collins [knee ligament] is going to be out for six months. You can put a timescale on his injury. Calum Davenport has fractured his neck, you can put a time limit on that, but the others are very difficult." On Dyer's progress from a double leg-break, Curbishley added: "He is actually running and he is doing OK. His problem is where they inserted the pin for the fracture. That is causing him some irritation - it is not the fracture itself."

To underline the planning ahead that is already happening, Curbishley spent the weekend in Italy with technical director Gianluca Nani and took in three games before heading back for training on Sunday. He said: "Obviously we are having dialogue all the time but it is much better face to face. We discussed a lot of things and I got an opportunity to see players that could be on our shopping list or not. I looked at a couple of games but really the main purpose was to have some dialogue ... it is an ongoing situation."