Macheda targeting first team action

HOUSTON - Manchester United's teenage striker Federico Macheda believes he can challenge the club's senior players for a first team place this season and make a lasting impact on the Premier League.

"I am ready and I hope that the manager will choose me for more games. I think this could be my year," the Italian youngster said after scoring twice in a 5-2 pre-season win over Major League Soccer's All Stars on Wednesday.

The Rome-born forward, who turns 19 next month, made an instant impact on his debut in April 2009 with a vital winner against Aston Villa but his progress was hampered last season by injury.

It was clear from his aggressive display in the friendly in Houston that he is determined to make up for that lost time.

"I had played in the previous tour games but I hadn't been very happy with my performance, so I really wanted to show to everyone that I was ready," he said.

"We're getting close to the start of the season and so I'm really pleased with those two goals. I have to continue doing well. I have to be ready for any chance that the manager (Sir Alex Ferguson) gives me."

With Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen perhaps not ready to fire on all cylinders at the start of the season, and Dimitar Berbatov still trying to find his best form at Old Trafford, Macheda knows he could get a chance early in the campaign.

"Last season I had a lot of injuries - I was out for nearly five months and so I couldn't really show my ability - but this season I hope to have more space and show what I can do," he said.

TREMENDOUS COMPOSURE

Macheda's opening goal against the All Stars was aided by a dreadful pass from MLS defender Kevin Alston but the Italian, who United captured from Lazio's youth team, showed tremendous composure to finish the chance.

Ferguson, whom Macheda calls a "splendid person and a fantastic coach", said the goal confirmed what he and his staff had long believed about the Italian's finishing ability.

"We always think Macheda is the best going through on the goalkeeper that we have," Ferguson said. "He's outstanding at that in these positions. When he went through, I expected him to score. It was a well taken goal."

That is praise indeed from a manager who can call on strikers of the quality of Rooney, Owen and Berbatov.

The arrival of Mexico striker Javier Hernandez provides yet more competition for places in attack but Macheda shrugged off the suggestion he has a new rival for a starting spot.

"I think we have seven strikers in the team and they are all a challenge, bringing in one more or having one less doesn't make much difference," said the Italian.

"He (Hernandez) is a good lad, very confident and with a lot of quality. He's calm, respectful and he has been well received by the players," Macheda said of the 22-year-old, who also scored on Wednesday when making his debut for the club.

Macheda said he had long observed the techniques and methods of top strikers, none more so than his childhood hero former Netherlands and AC Milan forward Marco van Basten.

"When I was a kid, I constantly watched videos of Marco van Basten, he was always my idol, a great striker," he said.