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Real escape with hope of progress

What the papers say
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Cleverley bemoans 'nightmare' season

Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley says there were moments this season that he felt like "the unluckiest footballer in the world" but he is determined to put his injury woes behind him.

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Cleverley, 22, hit the ground running after making his Premier League debut for United last August and was instrumental in the Red Devils' impressive start to the campaign.

His influential displays in midfield had many tipping him to become a long-term replacement for the then-retired Paul Scholes, but a series of injuries hampered his progress and he did not start a single league game after October.

However, the England Under-21 international believes he now values his career more than ever and is hoping the fitness problems that plagued his season are now a thing of the past.

"It has been a nightmare at times but I am only 22 and have around 15 years ahead of me yet. I just hope I have got it all over and done with now,'' he told the Manchester Evening News. "There were times during the season when I thought I was the unluckiest footballer in the world.

"From a great start it became the hardest season of my life but it has made me mentally stronger. I've always had to cope with disappointments in my career. I had two injuries over the years (undergoing shoulder surgery and having a knee problem in loan spells at Leicester and Watford respectively) but I got through them.

"This was the hardest yet. If you had said to me after the Everton game in October that I wouldn't start another Premier League game in the season I would have been massively gutted. But that turned out to be the case and it was tough to come to terms with.

"There is nothing more exciting in life than to be playing for Manchester United. To have that taken away is very hard to deal with. I don't feel I am owed anything. I've had some bad luck and now I have just got to get on with it.''

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