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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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Smith admits fears over Valencia ankle blow

Former Manchester United midfielder Alan Smith is worried that Antonio Valencia will never be the same player again after he suffered a bad ankle injury against Rangers.

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Smith dislocated his ankle when playing for Manchester United against Liverpool in 2006 and was forced to take seven months out of the game to recover from the blow. Upon his return, he made just four appearances for the club before moving on to Newcastle and he now has fears that Valencia's injury could have an impact on the rest of his career.

"I've not been the same player since my injury - Eduardo had the same injury and he struggled so much and the thing is you've got to make the best of it," Smith told the Daily Mirror. "Hopefully Antonio Valencia, who I saw have a bad injury, will be able to get back to the level that he was at before. It takes hours of work, I know it will be very difficult but I'd like to wish him all the best doing that."

Smith switched from a striker to a midfielder and admits that without the desire to carry on playing at the highest level, he could have easily retired.

"It would have been so easy to pack it in or not fight hard enough to get back in and so easy to let your standards drop," he said. "I've changed my position and I'm still trying to learn that and it's good for me, it's interesting. You're always involved.

"It was like a new start for me really and you have to prove yourself, game in game out – that's what football's all about. Everyone loves playing, and as long as I'm able to play at any level I'll still do so."

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