MANCHESTER UNITED goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar is delighted to be back in action and is looking forward to facing Aston Villa tomorrow night.
It has been a tough season for the veteran Dutchman, who suffered two lengthy absences before being granted compassionate leave just before Christmas when his wife Annemarie suffered a brain haemorrhage.
Thankfully, his wife has recovered sufficiently well for Van der Sar to resume his career at Old Trafford, bringing a stability to a side that had been struggling for consistent results.
“It feels really good to be back playing,” Van der Sar said.
“It has been a stop-start season for me and you miss your weekly routine of training and games.
“But if feels great to be back in the swing of things and playing for United again.”
Van der Sar kept the third clean sheet since his return to action in the five-goal hammering of Portsmouth at Old Trafford on Saturday.
It contributed to a run of six wins and a draw that has catapulted the Red Devils back into the thick of the Barclays Premier League title battle.
Alex Ferguson credits a lot of the improvement to Van der Sar although, typically, the former Ajax keeper is taking the plaudits in his stride.
“Every manager speaks highly of his players and I am sure other managers say the same about their goalkeepers,” he said. “But I know that I get good recognition here at United – from the players and the manager.
Meanwhile, Aston Villa full-back Luke Young has hailed the influence of defensive lynchpin Richard Dunne and believes that the Republic of Ireland international has boosted the team spirit at Villa Park.
Since joining Villa from Manchester City in the summer, Dunne has been a major part of their push for a Champions League spot and Young believes his ‘never say die’ attitude has rubbed off on his team-mates.
“We are enjoying defending at the moment,” Young said yesterday.
“You see the ball drops in the box and there are three or four players trying to block it – nine times out of 10 Dunne blocks it, but we’re all there just in case he doesn’t!
“I think he’s played a massive part since coming to the club and settling in like he has. He has been fantastic in pretty much every game he’s played.
“He’s an old-fashioned centre-half. He’s like a magnet. Everything seems to land to him or he’s always there and in the right place at the right time.”
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