United’s Brown ‘the best de­fender’

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

ENG­LAND in­ter­na­tional, Wes Brown, is the best de­fender in the coun­try and is still im­prov­ing, Manch­ester United man­ager Alex Fer­gu­son said yes­ter­day.

The 30-year-old’s flour­ish­ing part­ner­ship with Ne­manja Vidic at the heart of United’s de­fence has been a sil­ver lin­ing among a list of in­juries to Rio Fer­di­nand, John O’Shea and Jonny Evans this sea­son.

“Vidic and Brown have been fan­tas­tic in re­cent games. It just re­minds me that when Wes Brown is fit he’s the best nat­u­ral de­fender in the coun­try,” Fer­gu­son told re­porters ahead of to­day’s Premier League trip to strug­gling Portsmouth.

“I think most peo­ple recog­nise how good Wes is as a nat­u­ral de­fender. You have got to pay trib­ute to the lad.”

Signed as a trainee in July 1996, Brown’s United ca­reer has suf­fered count­less in­jury in­ter­rup­tions since mak­ing his de­but against Leeds United in 1998.

“He’s kept com­ing back from the in­juries he’s had in his ca­reer. He’s had two cru­ci­ates and a bro­ken an­kle and other in­juries,” the Scot said.

“Last sea­son he had a very stagnant sea­son in terms of in­ter­rup­tions to his con­sis­tency, but the pre­vi­ous sea­son he was our most con­sis­tent de­fender. Now he’s fit again and looking fan­tas­tic, he gets bet­ter all the time.”

Brown, who also plays at right back, has been capped 22 times by Eng­land and is likely to be part of Fabio Capello’s World Cup squad for the fi­nals in South Africa next year.

“I keep think­ing he’s only 22 or 23, he’s got such a young ap­proach to life. He’s done well deal­ing with all the things he’s had to deal with and still comes out fight­ing,” Fer­gu­son said.

Mean­while, Fer­gu­son says de­fender Fer­di­nand is not set for an im­mi­nent re­turn from a back in­jury de­spite “mak­ing progress.”

Fer­di­nand has not played since a 2-0 loss at Liver­pool on Novem­ber 25 when he was eas­ily beaten to the ball by Fer­nando Tor­res, al­low­ing the Spain striker to score.

Fer­gu­son said that “it's dif­fi­cult with back in­juries. Na­ture some­times helps you, but we are looking for­ward to him com­ing back.”

In other news from the United camp, Fer­gu­son has iden­ti­fied Den­mark in­ter na- tional, Si­mon Kjaer, as the re­place­ment for un­set­tled de­fender Vidic.

Kjaer has come to United's at­ten­tion af­ter a se­ries of in­spi­ra­tional per­for mances for Palermo. The 20-year-old has an R132-mil­lion buy-out clause in his con­tract with the Ital­ian club.

The Premier League cham­pi­ons know his value could soar if he plays well in next sum­mer's World Cup and want a deal be­fore then.

Vidic has just 18 months left on his con­tract and is cer­tain to be sold be­fore Fer­gu­son risks los­ing him for noth­ing.

The Serb is be­lieved to favour a move to Spain, hav­ing re­ceived favourable re­views about La Liga from in­ter­na­tional team-mates.

Kjaer is also a tar­get for Liver­pool af­ter a rec­om­men­da­tion from his com­pa­triot, Daniel Ag­ger. Ju­ven­tus are be­lieved to also be weigh­ing up a bid.

Sec­ond-placed United travel to Frat­ton Park to­day looking to win af­ter Wed­nes­day’s 1-0 Cham­pi­ons League de­feat at home to Be­sik­tas.

Victory for Fer­gu­son’s men would cut Chelsea’s lead to two points for a day at least, with Carlo Ancelotti’s men play­ing at Lon­don ri­vals Arse­nal to­mor­row. – Sapa-Reuter-AP and Daily Mail

SIM­PLY THE BEST: De­fender Wes Brown ... says Alex Fer­gu­son.

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