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Apr 22, 2011

Van der Sar still learning at 40

Veteran goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar believes the perfect blend of youth and experience is what makes Manchester United so competitive year after year.

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Arsene Wenger's youth policy has come under fire more than ever this season and even captain Cesc Fabregas said in a recent interview that the club needs to add proven winners to its stable of talented youngsters to win trophies.

Chelsea are the other team clinging to United's coat tails on the Premier League ladder and Carlo Ancelotti's experienced squad is often criticised for being too old when their form wavers.

Van der Sar is convinced United have a happy middle of older heads who have been there and done that complemented by a crop of younger, hungrier talents who keep the experienced stars on their toes.

"On the one hand you have a young player who brings maybe enthusiasm and fresh legs, '' he said. "The on the other you have the experienced guys, who have the knowledge and the composure in important situations.''

Van der Sar, 40, will retire at the end of the season but he insisted he is still learning new things despite the fact he is nearing the end of a marathon career, much of which has been spent at the very top of the game.

United face Everton at Old Trafford on Saturday and Van der Sar has no intention of taking his foot off the pedal even though the end in is sight.

He said: "It is not just during the games, even in training you are always learning. That's very important because every time you step out onto the pitch you have to be on your toes and ready for all the things that can happen.''

Van der Sar admitted he was keeping an eye on the form of Chelsea and Arsenal, both six points behind United with five games to play. Chelsea visit Old Trafford on May 8 in what could be a title decider should the Blues capitalise on any other slip-ups by United in the run home.

Van der Sar said: "It is important to know what other teams are doing and to see how they are in winning and losing positions.''

United boss Ferguson could ring the changes following the goalless draw at Newcastle in midweek.

Rio Ferdinand, Dimitar Berbatov, Antonio Valencia, Park Ji-sung might return to the starting line-up but Paul Scholes is sidelined through suspension.

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