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Four-goal Faris dreams of AFC Cup final


Mertesacker: I've never played in back 3

By ESPN Staff

Hargreaves unlikely to make Sporting clash

Owen Hargreaves has virtually written off his chances of making his Champions League debut for Manchester United in Lisbon on Wednesday.

The 26-year-old pulled out of the recent England double-header with a thigh strain and also sat out Saturday's Premier League win at Everton.

However, Sir Alex Ferguson was optimistic Hargreaves would be fit for the trip to Portugal, when United begin their quest to do better then last season's semi-final appearance.

But Hargreaves was unable to train this morning and now appears resigned to setting his sights on the weekend game with Chelsea instead.

'It's okay, I have never really had this injury before so this is new territory,' said the midfielder.

'I thought I would be fit for the Israel game, then the Russia game and then Everton, but I've still not done it. I have to take it day by day so hopefully I will be fit for the weekend.

'I can't say for certain but it looks as though I won't be ready for Wednesday because I have not trained.'

Hargreaves believes this latest injury, allied to the tendinitis problem which effectively scuppered his pre-season programme and ruled him out of the Red Devils' opening two games against Reading and Portsmouth, is a legacy of the broken leg he suffered in Germany 12 months ago.

'It is frustrating,' he said.

'I missed pre-season then I had a run of games and I was really enjoying it.

'It is just disappointing to suffer something so niggly. But I think these injuries come from last season when I broke my leg.'

Hargreaves' absence will be a blow to Ferguson, who already has a long injury list. Mikael Silvestre was ruled out for the season after suffering cruciate ligament damage at Goodison Park. Park Ji Sung and Ben Foster are currently recovering from similar injuries.

Wayne Rooney is hopeful of being involved in Lisbon after fracturing his foot on the opening day of the season, but midfield duo John O'Shea and Darren Fletcher are definitely out after suffering knee injuries on international duty with the Republic of Ireland and Scotland last week.

Hargreaves, meanwhile, believes Manchester United can conquer Europe in style this season.

He said: 'The amount of individual talent we have at United is bigger than we had at Bayern when we won the Champions League.

'What we did at Bayern was defend well and counter-attack well. The Champions League is similar to all major tournaments where teams tend to be cautious and don't want to risk losing matches because there aren't many games.

'At United we will play offensive, attractive football. That's what we want to do. We will play attractive football and I am sure we will be extremely successful.

'We haven't been able to play a so-called full strength team yet but I am extremely excited about the future.

'I talk to family and friends and they say when you look at the squad we have when everybody is on board it is going to be a fabulous experience for myself and for the fans.'

Hargreaves puts United on a par with Barcelona, Real Madrid and holders AC Milan as the favourites but said any English club should be considered.

He added: 'There are more clubs capable of winning the European Cup now. When we won it at Bayern in 2001 and when United did [in 1999] there were a few select teams who could be successful.

'But now every English team in the competition has the potential to win it.

'However, United are one of the favourites. In my opinion possibly the major favourites would be Man United, Barcelona, Real Madrid and the holders AC Milan.

'But then you have Chelsea and Liverpool who have shown to be very difficult to beat in Europe as well. It is very open.'