Premier League

Butragueno happy with Ronaldo

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Mon, 11 Mar 2013 17:00:00

Schalke have dismissed fears they could suffer a hangover from their derby success against Borussia Dortmund when they take on Galatasaray for a place in the Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday.

The Royal Blues go into the second leg with the advantage after a 1-1 draw in Turkey, but on the back of a physically and emotionally draining 2-1 win over Dortmund in which they also lost striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar to a knee injury.

The Holland frontman is out of the return leg but coach Jens Keller claimed his side would be ready for the match.

He said: "The lads are physically very fit. I think they have shown that impressively in recent weeks. And so if anyone should feel tired, this feeling will evaporate at the latest when they walk into the stadium and hear the Champions League anthem.

"We will of course take the positive feeling of the derby win into this game. The euphoria and the way we played our football against Borussia Dortmund and were supported by the fans was very special and can definitely help us against Galatasaray."

Finland international Teemu Pukki is an option to lead the line in place of Huntelaar, who is facing several weeks on the sidelines.

Jermaine Jones, who scored in the 1-1 draw in Turkey, is suspended, so Marco Hoger is likely to continue in midfield, with Atsuto Uchida at right-back.

Turkish Super Lig leaders Gala have had one more day to prepare than their hosts, but suffered an embarrassing 1-0 home defeat to Genclerbirligi in their last outing last Friday.

Gala boss Fatih Terim branded the defeat "unworthy of our club" and demanded an immediate improvement.

"In the league you can make up for lost points, but in continental competition weak performances are punished," he was quoted as saying by "On Tuesday we have to improve our level significantly."

Didier Drogba is expected to return to the starting line-up after he missed a penalty as a second-half substitute against Genclerbirligi.

Felipe Melo should also start after being suspended against Genclerbirligi, Wesley Sneijder should be involved and Emmanuel Eboue is also pushing for a start, but Tomas Ujfalusi is out due to injury.

Leon Clarke is a major doubt for the Sky Blues' midweek home clash.

The striker bagged his 21st goal of the season to seal Saturday's 2-1 victory at Scunthorpe, for whom he registered 11 of those having spent the first half of the campaign on loan with the Iron prior to his January switch to Coventry.

Clarke subsequently left Glanford Park wearing a protective boot over his foot having taken a knock during the game and he will now be assessed ahead of the match against the U's.

Saturday's success came in boss Steven Pressley's first match at the helm following his appointment 24 hours earlier and he can now look forward to his first outing at the Ricoh Arena.

City have struggled for home form this season, winning just five times compared to a club-record 11 on their travels, and Pressley must reverse that trend if he is to have any chance of closing the five-point gap on the play-off places.

Defenders Richard Wood (groin) and Blair Adams (knee) as well as striker Stephen Elliott (knee) remain sidelined.

The visitors will be monitoring at least three players ahead of Tuesday's encounter.

Defender Tom Eastman picked up a knock early on in Saturday's 2-1 home defeat to Crewe and was subsequently forced off in the 17th minute.

Meanwhile, left-back Bradley Garmston and striker Freddie Sears (both knee) missed the game altogether and all three will be assessed to determine whether they have any chance of being involved.

One player definitely unavailable to boss Joe Dunne is striker Jabo Ibehre as he serves the second game of his three-match suspension.

New boy Michael Smith, who arrived on loan from Charlton on Friday, will be pushing for his full debut having impressed following his introduction from the bench in place of David Wright after just 34 minutes at the weekend due to tactical reasons.

Fellow loan signing Troy Hewitt is also striving to start having made his debut for the U's in the latter stages.

Ronaldo was clearly touched by the affection he received from the Old Trafford faithful last week, which remained even after the winger scored the goal that sent United crashing out of the Champions League.

It merely heightened a feeling that has existed for some time that the 28-year-old might be tempted by a return to Old Trafford, so it was no surprise reports emerged that sportswear giants Nike - who sponsor both United and Ronaldo - were working on a plan aimed at coming up with the huge finance required to complete such an audacious transfer.

United have not entirely distanced themselves from that speculation, even if there seem to be doubts over whether Ronaldo is interested in a move and he might be using his old club as a negotiating tool over an extension to his current deal, which is due to expire in 2015.

Certainly there is no hint from the Madrid end that they are looking to off-load a player who took his goals tally to 26 in La Liga alone on Saturday night when he bagged two more in Real's latest victory over Celta Vigo.

Speaking at a Manchester United Foundation event to launch a Red Devils' Legends match against Real Madrid on June 2, Butragueno, now a Real director, offered no obvious reason for optimism about United's chances of getting the 2008 world player of the year back.

"Cristiano is under contract and we are very happy with him," he said.

"We are delighted he is at Madrid because he is a fantastic professional, and very ambitious in a positive way.

"His contribution to the team and the club has been amazing since he arrived.

"We are very grateful he came to us and are lucky he plays for Real Madrid."

Ronaldo has scored 38 goals in all competitions for Real this season.

He has found the net in 11 out of their last 18 games, scoring 19 in the process, and for Butragueno, a legendary striker himself, watching Ronaldo perform at the peak of his powers is an eye-opening experience.

"He scores a goal a game on average. This is incredible," he said.

"I have been watching football since I was three and never saw anything like that.

"When Ronaldo is on the pitch, you know you are going to score. It is an incredible advantage."

United are hoping to match the crowd in excess of 60,000 that Real attracted for the first fixture between the sides last year.

Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke have already pledged to play, whilst it is also anticipated Denis Irwin and Lee Sharpe will turn out for the Red Devils.

Some star names from Real's illustrious past can also be anticipated for the Old Trafford encounter, although given what happened in the Champions League last week, it does not appear the referee will be Turkish.

"Turkey doesn't have any referees," joked Bryan Robson.

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