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Falcao smells Sunderland opportunity

FalcaoMANCHESTER, February 27- Radamel Falcao is expected to return for Manchester United as Louis van Gaal’s side attempt to preserve their position in the Premier League’s top four against Sunderland on Saturday.

Colombia striker Falcao’s future is far from certain, with the 29-year-old having failed to make a significant impact since joining United on loan from Monaco at the start of the season.

He has scored four goals in 16 league matches and was an unused substitute in United’s 2-1 defeat at Swansea City last weekend, having been largely ineffective against Preston North End in the FA Cup five days earlier.

But with Robin van Persie having limped out of the Swansea match with an ankle injury and James Wilson having suffered a dead leg on Under-21 duty, Falcao is in line to partner Wayne Rooney in attack.

Having seen Monaco stun Arsenal 3-1 in the Champions League on Wednesday, the Colombian will be desperate to demonstrate that he did not make the wrong career choice by moving to Old Trafford.

Van Persie is United’s top scorer this term with 10 goals in all competitions, while Rooney has nine.

After those two, United have had their Spanish midfielders to thank for their contributions, with Juan Mata on six and Ander Herrera on five.

Herrera, who arrived at Old Trafford from Athletic Bilbao during the close season, is keen to continue to play his part.

“I haven’t really got a target for goals. I think we’re a very attacking side and I just want to help,” said the 25-year-old.

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“I knew that scoring goals was one of the things I could improve on, but I don’t want to stop now. I want to keep working and helping the team.

“The most important thing is that we win, but of course, when I score I’m happy.”

– ‘Use those memories’ – 

Midfielder Michael Carrick was due to return to training this week after an unspecified muscle injury, but is not expected to feature against Sunderland, who pulled off two surprise results at Old Trafford last season.

The north-east club beat United in a penalty shootout on their way to the League Cup final and shocked them again in May with a 1-0 victory that helped them escape relegation.

“They were two big games,” recalls Sunderland midfielder Sebastian Larsson.

“Getting into the cup final was massive for the fans and for the players, but the win in the league was in the middle of that crazy run which secured our Premier League status.

“We will use those memories. We know we have beaten them before and there is no reason why we can’t do it again.”

Manager Gus Poyet is also heartened by the fact that he has an unchanged squad available following last weekend’s 0-0 draw against West Bromwich Albion.

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He said: “I like to plan a little bit and train a few things and when you have most of the squad that you have for the weekend, you can really do things in a different way.

“If you have everyone training, it’s easier. Last week, three or four players who played at the weekend didn’t train until the Friday. This week has been much better.”

Jack Rodwell and Billy Jones will not be risked after injury lay-offs, but will be available for Tuesday’s trip to Hull City.

However, Emanuele Giaccherini, Sunderland’s Italy international, will miss the rest of the season after undergoing ankle surgery.

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