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By ESPN Staff

Ferguson champions Solskjaer's determination

Sir Alex Ferguson has paid tribute to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's determination to fight his way back from long-term injury.

The 33-year-old has endured a nightmare three years, during which time he has been forced to overcome two serious knee operations, a hamstring strain and, most recently, a broken cheekbone.

Such a run of bad luck would have ground many players down. But not Solskjaer.

In Durban on Saturday, the Norwegian rolled back the years and produced a performance to savour, scoring twice and showing he could yet be a major figure in Ferguson's plans for the new campaign.

And the Scot admitted Solskjaer's display against the Orlando Pirates came as no surprise given the determination with which the striker has come through his injury curse.

'He always said he would come back,' said Ferguson. 'He had that great belief in the medical staff and in his own ability to get back.

'When a player suffers a bad injury, getting back onto the pitch is not an easy road. There is only one way to do it - and that is work.

'Ole has done that and hopefully he will get a bit of luck now. He deserves it.'

The only disappointment for Solskjaer must have been Ferguson's decision to replace him at half-time.

However, the Scot insists the switch was not injury-related and he was merely easing the forward back into the fray after so long on the sidelines.

The bargain buy from Molde, whose recent contract extension has seen him also become a club ambassador, should feature against the Kaizer Chiefs at Newlands tomorrow, although Ferguson is anxious not to demand too much too soon.

'The one thing we hoped was would he get through the pre-season training first of all because that is as good an indication as you are going to get about his fitness,' said the United boss.

'The good news is he has been part of every session and looked fantastic.

'He was really looking forward to Saturday's game and he showed what he is made of.

'But 45 minutes is fine for him just now. There is no point pushing him at this stage.'

Meanwhile, Ruud van Nistelrooy's agent has confirmed the United striker is keen on a move to Real Madrid.

Roger Linse told Marca: 'We met with Manchester United to tell them Ruud thought that stage of his career was over.

'We know that Madrid want him and the player is also keen to play there.

'Madrid is a dream for any footballer and also for Ruud.'