Sat, Aug 23, 2003 - Page 18 News List

Dutchman eyes historic 10-in-a-row

ENGLISH ACTION Ruud van Nistelrooy hopes to better his own premier league record by knocking at least one goal past Newcastle in today's clash


Ruud van Nistelrooy will be looking to take his record of scoring in consecutive premier league matches into double figures when Manchester United meet Newcastle United at St James' Park today.

The Dutchman, who hit United's fourth in their 4-0 home win over Bolton Wanderers in their season-opener at Old Trafford last weekend, has now found the net in nine games in a row.

If last season's confrontations between the two sides are anything to go by, Van Nistelrooy should not have too much trouble scoring again. Alex Ferguson's side won 5-3 at home and 6-2 on their last trip to Newcastle in April.

Van Nistelrooy has scored in all four of his matches against Newcastle, including a hat-trick at Old Trafford last season, and has only once ended on the losing side, in his first when Manchester United lost 4-3 away in September 2001.

Competing at the other end for the scoring honors in the match will be Newcastle's former England captain Alan Shearer, who scored both goals in his side's draw at Leeds United last weekend.

The champions will take their new wing sensation Cristiano Ronaldo on the road for the first time after his brilliant debut in the second half at Old Trafford last weekend when he inspired the late rout of Bolton.

But he is more likely to start on the bench again with new Brazilian signing Kleberson perhaps making a debut in midfield.

Kleberson, who helped Brazil beat England on their way to their fifth world title last year, is sure he can handle the frenetic tempo of English football.

"I managed to play at the pace I wanted to and I managed to get a lot of the ball," Kleberson said after his first outing with the United reserves in midweek. "The pitch was quite fast but I managed to do everything I wanted to and I'm looking forward to the next game.

"It was more or less what I expected. It is a very tight game, very hard game with tight marking and I was expecting more or less the same as I got in the World Cup," he said.

England right back Gary Neville also made his comeback from foot and hamstring injuries in the same reserve game and is hoping for a quick return to the first team squad, but the Newcastle game is probably a little early for him.

Midfielder Nicky Butt is doubtful for the match after an ankle knock playing for England in midweek, a match that Newcastle central defender Jonathan Woodgate missed through injury.

Newcastle manager Bobby Robson will be hoping Woodgate is fit to stand as the main bulwark against the United attack.

He will also have to assess whether Nolberto Solano has recovered from playing and scoring for Peru in their 3-1 win over Mexico in a friendly in New Jersey that ended in a mass brawl with two men from each side sent off.

Solano, Newcastle's scorer in their Champions League qualifier 10 days ago, did not start against Leeds and may make way again for Lee Bowyer.

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