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Football: Experience key to United run-in, says Lindegaard

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard says Manchester United's senior players will help settle any potential nerves in the Premier League title run-in.

Alex Ferguson's side have a 15-point lead over rivals and defending champions Manchester City ahead of their meeting with struggling Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.

Lindegaard claims veterans such as Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes will not only bring calmness to the dressing room, but also help to eradicate any complacency.

"We're at a crucial stage of the season and have to stay sharp," Lindegaard said.

"It's very important for us not to look at the table right now. People from outside will say we've put ourselves in a comfortable situation, but it's very important to take it game by game so we don't relax.

"Of course it's a good position to be in, but it's something we can't think about. You can feel it in the team now, especially with the more experienced players, that we're entering the late stage of the season when all the medals are going to be given out.

"From Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Nemanja Vidic, you can really feel it with the players who've done it before, and see how determined they are and how important it is to them.

"The younger and less experienced players look to them leading us in the right direction, reminding us every day to stay sharp, not to relax and to keep going."

Manchester United face an FA Cup quarter-final replay against Chelsea just two days after their trip to Wearside, which could mean a place in the starting line-up against the Black Cats for Lindegaard.

Manager Ferguson is set to rotate his players with two games in such quick succession and Lindegaard may get the nod over David De Gea, who has just returned from international duty with Spain.

The Denmark international admitted the bitter experience on the final day of last season at the Stadium of Light, when Sunderland fans cheered the news that Manchester City had snatched the Premier League title, will help motivate United's players.

"When you have an experience like that and if you feel something is against you, like the fans in Sunderland, hopefully it's something we can remember to use it in a positive way at the weekend. We'll be determined to win the game," he said.

Sunderland could struggle to pose an attacking threat against a side they have not beaten in 18 attempts spanning almost 13 years.

Top scorer Steven Fletcher, who has claimed a third of their modest return of 33 league goals this season, is out for the remainder of the campaign with an ankle injury sustained on international duty with Scotland.

His deputy, Danny Graham, has yet to find the net since his £5 million ($7.6 million, 5.9 million euros) move from Swansea City in January.

A seven-game winless run has left Sunderland just four points above the bottom three, with their six-year stay in the top flight under increasing threat.

It is a situation that has not been helped by skipper Lee Cattermole also being ruled out for the run-in, after undergoing knee surgery.

"We've foreseen the injury to Cattermole for some time," Martin O'Neill, the Sunderland manager.

"The injury to Fletcher is a blow to us, but we've just got to get on with it.

"It's tough to take, but it's the nature of the game and you get these things during the course of a season. You have to be as prepared as possible and deal with it."

Wales midfielder David Vaughan (groin) and Spanish defender Carlos Cuellar (ankle) are doubts, but Benin attacking midfielder Stephane Sessegnon is expected to be fit after overcoming a minor thigh problem.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130328/football-experience-key-united-run-says-lindegaard