MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, January 29 – Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson has revealed Javier Hernandez is leaving him with a dilemma as to whether he drop the Mexican striker for the visit of Southampton on Wednesday.
Hernandez, 24, has scored 14 goals so far this season despite not being a regular starter for the Premier League leaders.
But he has had to battle with Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck for a place in United’s line-up.
Hernandez scored two goals as United knocked Fulham out of the FA Cup on Saturday but may find himself on the bench when the Saints come to Old Trafford, with van Persie likely to return for the Premier League fixture.
The Dutchman was rested for the Cup tie but Ferguson cannot be expected to leave the league’s top scorer out of a match where United’s lead at the top might be cut to two points by kick-off if champions Manchester City beat bottom-of-the-table QPR on Tuesday.
“He got a break in the summer, got the little rest and shown the benefit,” Ferguson said of Hernandez. “It’s a terrible dilemma when I’ve got that lad there. Sometimes I leave him out to bring in Robin van Persie, but as I explain to him, we regard him so highly.
“He’s a fantastic professional, unbelievable attitude to the game, never stops running or working and every training session’s the same, so I’m really pleased for him.”
With van Persie, Rooney, Hernandez and Welbeck performing impressively in attack, comparisons have been made with United’s forward options during their Treble-winning campaign of 1999.
Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole, Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer led the line that year when United won the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League, and Ferguson admits his current crop are just as good.
“The four in ’99 were fantastic players,” he said. “You couldn’t possibly criticise any of them, they were fantastic, but we’ve got four players today who are equally as good.”
United midfielder Anderson reckons they have a team capable of repeating that same hat-trick of trophies in the one season.
“Of course,” the Brazilian said when asked if he thought United could complete the Treble this season. “We have unbelievable players.
“I know the boss has two or three teams. He doesn’t play 11 players all the time, he changes players and I think he has an unbelievable squad.”
New Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino will be handed a welcome lift if Adam Lallana can prove his fitness ahead of the Argentine’s second game in charge since his appointment following the controversial dismissal of Nigel Adkins.
Lallana, the Saints captain, has been sidelined with a knee ligament injury suffered in the clash with Reading in early December but the midfielder returned to training last week to put himself in contention for an Old Trafford recall.
Pochettino took his squad, currently four points clear of the relegation zone, to Barcelona for some warm weather training last week and the manager said: “It was a very good week of work and a good atmosphere.
“We’ve got to know the players very well and the players have got to know us well too, not just my staff, the technical staff involved with the club too, so overall it was a very positive experience.”
He added: “We definitely respect Manchester United and what they’re doing in the league right now, they’re an amazing team, but we’re going with a mentality to win and we’ll see how the game proceeds.”