Manchester United are set to receive a timely boost for their run-in as Paul Scholes is set to make his return to first team football after the international break, when United face Sunderland away 48 hours before traveling south for the FA Cup quarter final replay against Chelsea.
Scholesy has missed the last 10 games, since appearing as a sub against Fulham in the FA Cup on January 26 and his return will be a welcome news for Sir Alex Ferguson who had previously stressed the 38-year-old will be part of his plans for the final, crucial, weeks of the season.
While Scholes hasn’t reached the heights he had touched last year after returning from retirement, his experience could prove to be a valuable asset for United particularly as Sir Alex has the difficult task to keep his players focused until the title is mathematically sealed.
Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley have developed an excellent partnership in United’s engine room this season and it’s difficult to see them being displaced as first choice combination in midfield, but Scholes is definitely likely to feature at some stage, considering that Fergie will be looking at rotating his squad with two games within three days.
As for Scholes’ future, Sir Alex has maintained he’s prepared to wait until the end of the season before sitting down to discuss whether to offer the midfielder a contract extension that would see him playing on for a further year, or whether Scholes will decide to retire for a second, and this time definitive, time.
Meanwhile, Michael Carrick could be deployed in defence by Roy Hodgson against San Marino after Rio Ferdinand pulled out of the England squad (well played Rio, by the way). Obviously Hodgson hasn’t been listening to the Stretford End in recent times…”It’s Carrick, you know, hard to believe it’s not Scholes!”