United may have to stick with shaky De Gea for Stoke clash after Lindegaard injury
Published 31/01/2012 | 05:00
David De Gea may be forced to face Stoke's aerial bombardment after rival Manchester United 'keeper Anders Lindegaard suffered an injury scare in training.
Lindegaard turned his ankle in the final practice before tonight's meeting at Old Trafford and is considered highly unlikely to play.
United will give the Dane every chance to recover in time, but it opens up the possibility of De Gea having to instantly exorcise the demons from the FA Cup defeat at Anfield.
Lindegaard has replaced De Gea in the last three Premier League fixtures following a series of high-profile errors by the young Spaniard.
De Gea's return for last weekend's trip to Merseyside couldn't have gone much worse, as he looked at fault for both Liverpool goals.
His lack of stature, vulnerability from set-pieces and uncertainty in a crowded penalty box was cruelly exposed with Liverpool's first goal.
Despite receiving the support of team-mates, he is sure to be suffering a crisis of confidence and Stoke might be considered the side he'd be least suited to facing at the moment.
De Gea has not featured in a league game for United since their home defeat to Blackburn on December 31. On that occasion he was blamed for Grant Hanley's winner in the 3-2 loss.
Manager Alex Ferguson knows what's in store for either of his goalkeepers against the physical Potters.
"You know what Tony Pulis' team will be like, they are the same all the time," Ferguson said. "They will be 100pc committed and they always get stuck in. You have to cope with that. To be honest, I always enjoy it too. It was like when we used to play Wimbledon.
"No one used to look forward to playing against them but my team started to, as it was a physical challenge and also in terms of taking the ball and playing football.
"Stoke are a different team altogether but they still have the same qualities of never giving in."
Ashley Young, Tom Cleverley and Anderson are all moving closer to full fitness, but Nani may be out for a while with a foot injury. Wayne Rooney and Phil Jones are struggling with ankle problems, but Rio Ferdinand has returned to training after a back spasm.
Stoke fear a backlash from United, with the defeat at Anfield meaning their best chance of silverware this season is now probably the Premier League, though the Red Devils still have to Europa League to compete for.
Potters defender Robert Huth said: "It's not ideal they lost -- they will probably turn up now and be on fire against us. That's what we have to expect.
"Whenever they seem to lose a game, in the next one they perform almost like the old United. I think they will come out all guns blazing.
"It will obviously have been a frustrating result, losing against Liverpool. It's just the league for them now, so I'm sure they'll be up for it."
Huth said Stoke would take heart from Blackburn's performance at Old Trafford last month.
He added: "Blackburn showed that it can be done."
Matthew Etherington is a doubt after suffering a groin injury in the weekend's FA Cup win over Derby. Mamady Sidibe is a long-term absentee with a knee problem. (© Daily Telegraph, London)