Sir Alex Ferguson predicts New Year charge from Manchester United... once injury crisis clears

By Sportsmail Reporter

Sir Alex Ferguson is confident Manchester United have the right blend to retain their Premier League crown - providing they can stay clear of injuries.  

After watching his horse What A Friend land the prestigious Lexus Chase at Leopardstown yesterday, Ferguson now has his sights on a win over Wigan to complete a welcome post-Christmas double.  

Victory over the Latics, who they have beaten on all 10 previous meetings, would allow United to move within two points of leaders Chelsea for the start of 2010, a situation Ferguson would have gladly accepted in the depth of his side's recent injury crisis.

Now he can only hope for a clean bill of health as the season enters a phase which could prove decisive in the battle to finish top.

Wayne Rooney celebrates with Dimitar Berbatov

Partnership: Wayne Rooney celebrates with Dimitar Berbatov in the win over Hull

Sir Alex Ferguson

Only way is up: Sir Alex Ferguson is looking to overhaul Chelsea at the top of the Premier League

'Getting all our players back is key for us,' said Ferguson. 'Hopefully the new year brings back these players because our squad has got the right mix. 

'There is plenty of youth and experience so if we get that consistency of selection to help us go on the kind of run we are used to, we will certainly have a big chance.'

The return of skipper Gary Neville after three weeks out with a groin strain will allow Ferguson to name an experienced defence after Nemanja Vidic and Wes Brown came through Sunday's win at Hull unscathed.  

That solidity should allow United's forward line to flourish, with Wayne Rooney in particular hitting threatening form with his 14th goal of the season at the KC Stadium.  

And the impact of Dimitar Berbatov could be equally significant. Berbatov is yet to win over a section of the United support since his club record £30.75million arrival from Tottenham 18 months ago.  

Dimitar Berbatov scores against Hull

Back in form: United striker Dimitar Berbatov scores against Hull

But his efficiency is starting to pay dividends and, having eased him through a knee injury which Ferguson is now confident will not require an operation, the Bulgarian will be a key figure in the challenges which lie ahead.  

'Dimitar has had a bit of a knee niggle but it is a lot better now,' said Ferguson. 'We have been treating him quite carefully because we know that we need him in the important second part of the season.  

'He came through a full game against Hull and felt fine. He doesn't need an operation and hopefully that is it gone now.'

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