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Five Aside

Anderson rewarded with rare start

Sir Alex Ferguson will reward Anderson for his catalytic contribution as a substitute against Queens Park Rangers with a first Premier League start in three months when West Ham visit Old Trafford on Wednesday.

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The Manchester United manager praised the Brazilian midfielder, who came on when United were trailing relegation-threatened Rangers 1-0 and helped the league leaders record a 3-1 victory.

"I thought Ando won the game for us," he told MUTV. "His performance was outstanding. He took the game by the scruff of the neck and he was so positive and determined in his play that he picks himself on Wednesday."

Anderson has only begun one league game this season, against Fulham in August, and was limited to eight starts in an injury-hit 2011-12 campaign.

Ferguson has a surfeit of options in the centre of midfield where only Michael Carrick, who has begun 12 of the 13 league games, has been a regular.

But he is without the suspended Paul Scholes, who collected his fifth caution of the season against QPR, for the meeting with West Ham.

Ferguson has not ruled out Antonio Valencia, who missed the QPR game with a hip problem, but with Nani certain not to play, he is short of options on the flanks.

"We've got plenty of options in the midfield and up front – it's just the two wide positions," he added. "We'll see what Antonio is like on Monday and Tuesday. Nani is still going to be out."

After struggling with defensive injuries for much of the season, Ferguson said he now has four fit centre-backs with Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones all in contention.

"Chris Smalling and Phil Jones were on the bench on Saturday and they're available," he said. "It's good to have them as back-up and in the back four things are much healthier."


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