SOL CAMPBELL has responded to speculation linking him with Manchester United by claiming he would ‘‘love’’ to play for the Red Devils and stating any deal taking him to Old Trafford would be a “great move”.
The 35-year-old former Arsenal, Tottenham and Portsmouth defender has emerged as an unlikely candidate to join the United ranks after Alex Ferguson’s side was hit by a string of defensive injuries.
Reports yesterday claimed free agent Campbell could be approached by United to train with the club with a view to him being handed a short-term contract in the new year.
Campbell, who has been training with Arsenal in a bid to keep up his fitness following his departure from Notts County earlier this season, yesterday revealed he had not received any contact from United, but admitted the prospect of joining the Red Devils was enticing.
“I have heard nothing officially from Manchester United, but there have been suggestions and of course, it would be a great move for me, if it happens,” he said.
“Of course I would love to play for Manchester United, but I am not counting any chickens, just waiting to see what happens. I am training as usual at Arsenal, and would go to train at Manchester United if I was asked.”
Campbell is free to resume his playing career after ending his contract dispute with Coca-Cola League Two promotion hopefuls County at the start of this month.
Campbell signed at Meadow Lane in August after being enticed to the club by director of football and former England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson – but the defender left by “mutual consent” just one game into a lucrative five-year deal.
Linking Campbell with United is plausible enough, purely on the grounds that Ferguson was missing eight defenders in Germany on Tuesday night for the 3-1 Champions League win over Wolfsburg. Of those, Nemanja Vidic is expected to return from a flu virus against Aston Villa on Saturday but the rest will be missing for an unspecified time.
Therefore if Ferguson decides he needs a short-term reinforcement, it is easy to see why Campbell might prove attractive, particularly as it is only three years since he caused a similar surprise when he signed Celtic legend Henrik Larsson. However, in that instance, Larsson was match fit after playing in Sweden for Helsingborg.
Despite Campbell’s personal training regime the fact remains he has not played a Premier League game since quitting Portsmouth in the summer and would presumably require at least a couple of matches to reach the fitness levels required at the top level.
Meanwhile United midfielder Michael Carrick is backing long-time England team-mate Michael Owen to hit the goal trail following his first Manchester United hat-trick on Tuesday night.
It was the striker’s first Champions League treble since 2003 and confirmed United’s status as Group B winners.
For Owen, it was also a nudge in the direction of Fabio Capello with time running out for him to stake a claim for a place in England’s World Cup plans.
Even now he only has seven goals to his name this season but Carrick predicts more will follow, which may just earn him a place in Capello’s side for the final friendly – likely to be against Egypt at Wembley on March 3 – before the Italian names his provisional squad.
“It was a great achievement,” said Carrick. “Scoring a hat-trick away from home in the Champions League doesn’t happen so often but it is just what he is all about.
“We always knew he could do it. He has been doing it all his career.
“Hopefully now he can get on a roll and he will continue to score many important goals for us over the next few weeks.”
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