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By ESPN Staff

Queiroz in confident mood ahead of kick-off

Carlos Queiroz insists Premier League champions Manchester United are ready to hit the ground running this season.

United begin the defence of their title against Reading at Old Trafford on Sunday, boosted by four and three-goal wins over Dunfermline and Glentoran respectively.

And, while the opposition was nowhere near the standard the Red Devils will encounter over the next nine months, Queiroz believes United are in fine fettle as the new campaign approaches.

'We are ready,' he said. 'There is no doubt we believe the boys are fully prepared.

'We realise it is a different ball game now. The Premier League is starting, it has a different atmosphere, different problems and there is a different intensity.

'But everybody is very excited by the challenge and ready to run this race.'

While Wayne Rooney was grabbing the headlines in Scotland, Nani stole the show in Belfast with a brilliant third as United strolled to victory.

The Portugal winger produced a goal worthy of his £17million price tag, rasping home a 20-yard drive, then following it up with a trademark double somersault celebration.

It was just the kind of acrobatics Sir Alex Ferguson thought he had outlawed during United's recent Far East tour, when Nani found the net on both his appearances.

Yet, with Ferguson back home in Manchester completing a house move wife Cathy had ordered him to contribute to, Queiroz was left to both praise and admonish.

'Maybe it would be better not to celebrate like that,' said Ferguson's assistant. 'He can get injured that way. But it is his way to celebrate and we hope he has a lot more moments to celebrate.

'That is what we expect from him.'

Although Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to recover from a minor ankle knock which kept him out of both last night's games, Nani may still make Ferguson's starting line-up against Reading.

Patrice Evra, who scored United's second at the Oval, will also start, especially with Gabriel Heinze's future so uncertain.

However, one man who will not be involved is Carlos Tevez, as United still await official confirmation of his registration by the Premier League.

'Sometimes the administration side of things takes longer than you hope for,' said Queiroz.

'At the moment, he is working hard on the training ground, so hopefully things will be sorted out soon and he can play his part next week.'