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'Valencia key to title tilt'

ALEX Ferguson is convinced Antonio Valencia could have a major role to play in Manchester United's Premier League title quest.

Valencia returned after a month on the sidelines at Wolves yesterday and produced a virtuoso performance, scoring one goal and making two others as United sauntered to a 5-0 win.

The result moved Ferguson's side four points clear of nearest rivals Manchester City, who are at home to Chelsea on Wednesday.

And the Scot is certain Valencia will be a man to rely on over the remaining nine games.

"He could be very important," said Ferguson. "His form before he got the injury was outstanding.

"Now he is back we hope he stays back fit. He is such an honest, hardworking player. You get two sides to Antonio. He is prepared to work really hard. He can tackle, he can run, but he can also beat a man.

"He has got everything really."

City play twice before United are in action again, with Saturday's visit to Stoke also looming.

"They (City) have a big game on Wednesday of course," said Ferguson.

"Chelsea are back to form so it will be really interesting. The important thing was for us to do our job.

"There are nine games left and we have to keep whittling them down.

"Eventually the games run out and hopefully we will achieve what we want."

United were never in trouble once Wolves had suffered the twin trauma of conceding the opening goal to Jonny Evans -- his first for the Red Devils -- and losing Ronald Zubar, who was sent off for the second of two bookable offences.

Valencia drove in an excellent second and Danny Welbeck added another before the break, with Javier Hernandez netting twice after half-time.


At one stage it looked as though United may get close to beating their 8-1 win at Nottingham Forest in 1999 -- the largest away victory since the Premier League was formed.

There was little consolation for Wolves in the fact they avoided that humiliation.

However, at least Ferguson can see some hope. "Credit to Wolves," he said.

"They are an honest team and that gives them a chance.

"They are down at the bottom in a group of five teams. If they can pick up a couple of wins it could all change round for them.

"They have great support and they are a great football club.

"You just hope that the history they have got, they stay in the league. The Premier Division needs Wolves."