Hargreaves future increasingly bleak

MANCHESTER - Midfielder Owen Hargreaves' Manchester United career could be over after manager Sir Alex Ferguson said the luckless player's latest injury would keep him out for the rest of the season.

Hargreaves, the club's forgotten man after being cursed by injuries since arriving from Bayern Munich for 17 million pounds in 2007, is out of contract at the end of this season.

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The 30-year-old's latest knock is a shoulder injury and asked if he would play again this season, Ferguson told a news conference on Friday: "I don't see it at all.

"It puts his season to an end to be honest with you. He has just carried bad luck the whole time he has been here."

Hargreaves, born in Canada to a Welsh mother and English father, has not played since November when his long-awaited return after not making a start for more than two years ended after just five minutes when he hurt a hamstring.

The former England international, who played at the 2002 and 2006 World Cups and Euro 2004, has struggled with chronic tendinitis in his knees which has required surgery.

Ferguson declined to be drawn on whether Hargreaves would be at Old Trafford next season, saying talks were ongoing, but even the most risk-loving gambler would find it hard to bet on a future for a player who has made 39 appearances in four years.

Premier League leaders United, chasing a treble after beating Chelsea this week to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League, face neighbours Manchester City in an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley on Saturday.

Ferguson will be without suspended Wayne Rooney but otherwise has a strong squad to select from for a game where his team are seeking to build on the momentum of seven successive victories in all competitions.

"We're going into this game with good confidence, it should be a very exciting game, a derby game in London - that's unusual," he said.

"The players are in good momentum at the moment, confidence is high, they are playing well."

The competition's most successful team with 11 trophies, United last lifted the cup in 2004. The winners of Saturday's semi will face either Bolton Wanderers or Stoke City, who play their game at Wembley on Sunday.