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United starlet Macheda set to start against Boro?

Sir Alex Ferguson is debating whether to hand Federico Macheda his first Premier League start at Middlesbrough.

The Italian teenager has enjoyed an explosive beginning to his United career, scoring winning goals against Aston Villa and Sunderland on his first two substitute appearances.

Although the 17-year-old was not quite as impressive when Ferguson handed him his first senior start in the FA Cup semi-final defeat to Everton earlier this month, the former Lazio trainee is a player of immense promise.

Now Ferguson is considering whether to hand Macheda a start against Boro as he looks to use the full depth of his squad in a week where the battle with Liverpool for the Premier League title - which United lead by three points - is just edged out in importance by a Champions League semi-final with Arsenal.

"I was delighted with Macheda's performance at Wembley," Ferguson insisted. "Playing your first full game somewhere like that is very difficult but he has done fantastically well.

"I am trying to ensure both Federico and Danny Welbeck feel wanted because they both have the physical strength to cope and they will be involved tomorrow."

Paul Scholes, Park Ji-sung and Ben Foster, all unused substitutes in Wednesday's win over the Gunners, are set to be included, along with Nani, who did not make the bench.

Wes Brown will also be drafted into a squad almost certainly denied the services of Rio Ferdinand with a rib injury.

Macheda offers a vision of the future, his last-gasp strike to overcome Villa contending with Wayne Rooney's Champions League hat-trick against Fenerbahce in 2004 as one of the best debut performances Ferguson has ever seen.

"I don't think I have ever seen a better debut goal than that," said Ferguson. "For a young lad of 17 to come on and score a great goal like that was incredible.

"I don't think you can match scoring a hat-trick as Wayne did. But the difference was he had a bit of experience with Everton and England prior to that. Macheda had none.

"He has the instinct of knowing what to do and when to do it. Against Villa he did not just score, he made an impact on the game with his general play. He has certainly proved he is ready."


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