Man United ready to unleash 'Pea' shooter

MANCHESTER - Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez is ready to make his first start of the season, manager Sir Alex Ferguson said on the eve of Saturday's Premier League trip to Bolton Wanderers.

The Mexican known as Chicharito ('Little Pea'), who has missed the beginning of the season after suffering a concussion during the pre-season tour of the United States, scored for his country last week in a 1-1 draw with Poland in a friendly.

The 23-year-old, who enjoyed a dream debut season last term as his goal-poaching propelled him up the pecking order to become Wayne Rooney's regular strike partner, came off the bench in the 8-2 win over Arsenal in their last league game.

"He's ready, he's been training really well. The only issue was how much time we gave him after his head knock but he's fine," Ferguson told a news conference on Friday.

"He played two 45 minutes for Mexico, scoring in one of the games... that's terrific."

Ferguson was glad to come through the two-week international break with no new injuries and only captain Nemanja Vidic, fellow defender Rafael and striker Danny Welbeck remain sidelined.

Welbeck, who injured his hamstring in the Arsenal game, could be back sooner than expected with Ferguson saying the England striker should return to training next week because the injury was not as bad as they had first thought.

With a trip to Benfica for their Champions League group opener coming up on Wednesday, Ferguson seems likely to stick with many of the youngsters who have driven United's lively start to their title defence for the short journey to Bolton.

"I don't anticipate any real changes tomorrow," Ferguson said.

That includes 20-year-old goalkeeper David de Gea.

The Spaniard was given a hard time by critics after making errors against Manchester City in the Community Shield and against West Brom in their league opener and Bolton have promised to test his skills at dealing with aerial threats.

"I'm sure there will be a few crosses going in," Bolton striker Kevin Davies told reporters on Thursday.


Ferguson backed his young keeper to deliver.

"Each game that comes along is a new challenge," he said. "He got a different type of experience against West Brom, he actually did very well in terms of dealing with it but didn't get protection from the referee at the time which was disappointing.

"He's bound to be better protected than against West Brom I think."

While De Gea has not made the best start, another of United's close-season signings, winger Ashley Young, has settled in well.

"Some players come to a club like ours and find it difficult to settle in but Ashley has done exceptionally well," said Ferguson.

"He is versatile and has a good understanding of the game. He is getting great support from [Patrice] Evra on the left-hand side.

"We tried to get him when he was at Watford but were just a bit late. He has matured at Aston Villa and his form last season was fantastic considering they had a difficult year. Since he has come to us, he has taken the challenge very well."

United top the table on goal difference from neighbours Manchester City with both sides having made a perfect start to the season with three wins out of three.