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O'Shea calls for United front

Published: Wednesday 2 May 2007, 2.14CET
John O'Shea wants Manchester United FC's younger players to "step up to the plate" as they tackle AC Milan for a place in the UEFA Champions League final.
by Michael Harrold
from Milan features

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Published: Wednesday 2 May 2007, 2.14CET

O'Shea calls for United front

John O'Shea wants Manchester United FC's younger players to "step up to the plate" as they tackle AC Milan for a place in the UEFA Champions League final.

Manchester United FC defender John O'Shea said it was time to "step up to the plate" as his side look to clinch a place in the UEFA Champions League final.

Past masters
United lead AC Milan 3-2 going into Wednesday's second leg, and the 26-year-old Irish international aims to make that count at San Siro. There are four UEFA Champions League winners in Sir Alex Ferguson's ranks - Ryan Giggs, Ole Gunnar Solskjær and Wes Brown with United in 1999, Edwin van der Sar in AFC Ajax colours four years before - yet O'Shea insists the Red Devils will not be relying on the old guard to take them to Athens.

'A great buzz'
"In the changing room before the match, that's when they'll guide us and help us with their experience," O'Shea said. "But you can't always rely on other people. You have to step up to the plate yourself sometimes. That's how you get your own experience. But we're lucky we have these players in our team because they're going to be vital for us. It's just a great buzz. You can't wait for the game to start. That's why you're at a club like Manchester United - to be playing in games like this, in stadiums like the San Siro."

Outstanding talent
O'Shea's versatility has been a godsend to his manager, who has had to juggle his resources as injuries take their toll. Playing at right-back last week, O'Shea saw at first hand the damage Kaká can do. Despite that two-goal cameo, the academy product claims the Brazilian will not be given special attention: "He's an outstanding talent. We know we'll have to be on top form to stop him, but if we concentrate too much on Kaká, the other Milan players will take advantage. You have to get the balance right."

That is something Sir Alex has done throughout the campaign as United chase trophies on three fronts. Late recoveries against Milan then Everton FC on Saturday have put United in strong positions in Europe and the Premiership, and confidence is high as they seek to push home their advantage. "When you're losing 2-1 to a team like Milan, for the game to finish the way it did gives you great belief," said O'Shea. "You saw that as well from the weekend, how we responded to going two goals down. But that's been the case all season and we'll be looking for that to continue. When you're winning, all the little knocks you have seem to disappear and you feel really strong and confident. That's how the team is feeling and we just hope it continues."

Last updated: 02/05/07 22.15CET

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