Neville realistic over challenge to reclaim place

July 1, 2008

Manchester United defender Gary Neville admits he faces a challenge to win back his place in the starting line-up after a long-term injury.

The 33-year-old England international has made just one nine-minute substitute appearance - against Roma in the Champions League quarter-final second leg in April - since March 2007 when he was ruled out with an ankle problem.

During that time he has seen Wes Brown cement his place at right-back as the team won the Barclays Premier League title and the Champions League.

Neville hopes the worst of his injury problems are now behind him but accepts he will have to impress in pre-season if he is to find a way back into the first team.

'It is a great challenge - a greater challenge more than ever this season to repeat last season's success and more of a challenge for me personally to break back into a team that has won the double,' Neville told MUTV.

'I have a number of challenges and the ultimate one is to get back in the team in front of Wes, which is going to be hard because of the way he played last season.

'Pre-season is hugely important for every player but for me it's massive. I genuinely believe in my heart of hearts I will come back and be fine but until you have gone out there and done it, it means nothing.'

Neville has warned his team-mates they cannot rest on their laurels after a double-winning season and must push for more honours.

'We have to make sure we go for it again and I'm desperate to be part of it,' he added.

'I think we are better equipped than in 1999 (when United won the treble).

'The strength of the squad is enormous. I do feel we are in a better position but we have to show that mentality and show we can do it (win the Champions League) again.

'No Manchester United team has been able to to that. We've had to wait nine years [since the last one].'