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Discipline a concern for Chelsea

By ESPN Staff

O'Shea hints at 'something special' at United

John O'Shea is confident Manchester United are on the verge of 'something special'.

The Republic of Ireland international signed a new long-term contract extension on Friday and has already been promised a place in the starting XI to face Sporting Lisbon tonight by Sir Alex Ferguson.

Although O'Shea could undoubtedly gain more first-team experience away from United, he is one of those who believes one game for the Red Devils is worth 10 anywhere else.

And, having committed his future to the club until 2012, the 26-year-old feels he can look forward to collecting plenty of major prizes.

'I feel like I am going to be part of something special,' he said.

'Signing the new contract was not a particularly hard decision but it was an important one.

'I know it is going to be difficult to get into the team and stay there but I also know I will get my chance.

'I feel that if you look at the club, the team, my age and the age of the squad, there are good times ahead. And I want to be part of it.'

Ferguson's declaration that O'Shea, along with Darren Fletcher, Tomasz Kuszczak and Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo, will be part of his starting line-up, only emphasises the Waterford-born player's versatility.

His 250-plus United appearances have seen him appear in both full-back positions, central defence and central midfield, plus one famous game in goal after Edwin van der Sar broke his nose at Tottenham last season when Ferguson had already used his three substitutes.

Where O'Shea actually plays tonight is open to debate but he is putting the team first and focusing solely on ensuring United tie up top spot in the group.

'It would be nice to finish top,' he added. 'The majority of the time when you finish top you avoid the other main dangers.

'Sometimes it doesn't always work out like that but if you finish top of your group you have done everything you can.

'Then you just hope for that bit of luck that will see you into the latter stages.'

United's players certainly have an added incentive to excel in the Champions League this term given the vast majority of them will not be involved at Euro 2008 next summer.

As few as five members of the Red Devils squad - Edwin van der Sar, Nani, Ronaldo, Kuszczak and Patrice Evra - could be in Austria and Switzerland, which O'Shea admits is something of a disappointment to all concerned.

'All you can do is pass your congratulations to the lads who have qualified and get on with it,' he said

'It is disappointing for someone like Wayne Rooney that he doesn't get a chance to showcase his talents on the biggest stage of all.

'But you can't afford to get too downhearted. You just have to get on with it.

'We are lucky to have club games coming up which allow us to take our mind off it, so we can concentrate on winning football matches for United.'

Meanwhile, Ferguson has until December 11 to respond to an FA charge of 'using abusive and insulting words towards an official' following his half-time altercation with Mark Clattenburg, which resulted in his dismissal to the stands for the second half of United's 1-0 defeat to Bolton on Saturday.

Ferguson was upset that Clattenburg failed to protect his players against what he claimed were 'over-aggressive' tactics from Gary Megson's side, with Kevin Davies in particular irritating the Scot by meting out some rough treatment on full-back Evra.

'You can expect a team in Bolton's position to play that way,' he said.

'You expect a team near the bottom to battle, scrap and fight.

'Obviously they do not have the quality of opponents like ourselves. That is why we are in different positions in the league.

'But the key thing is how the referee controls it. He is the arbiter in terms of the application of the rules of football. That is where we feel a bit aggrieved.'