Sat, Jul


MANCHESTER UTD fan Shaka Hislop will achieve a lifelong ambition today when he lines up AGAINST his heroes.

The West Ham stopper has been desperate to play at Old Trafford since he was a kid growing up in Trinidad.

Now he is set to realise that dream and he intends to make the occasion all the more memorable -by shutting out old pal Dwight Yorke.

Hislop is one of the hottest keepers in the Premiership at the moment and he reckons Yorke - who he grew up with - is part of the best strike force in the country.

He said: "I go to Old Trafford knowing that I will be facing one of the most frightening strike forces in the country.

"I've sat on the bench there a few times but never actually played.

"Everybody dreams of playing at Old Trafford because it is the home of Manchester United, the world's biggest football club.

"They will be expecting 55,000 in the stadium and I'm sure it will be a thrilling atmosphere. It is the perfect time for me to realise my dream.

"On top of that I'll face Dwight and Andy Cole. That's what it's all about, testing yourself against the best."

Hislop is convinced this is the best United side he has seen in years.

So he reckons there's no better time to prove himself -after flopping at Newcastle United and Aston Villa -by keeping a clean sheet.

He added: "I am playing some of the best football of my career. My confidence is high and I am enjoying football as much as ever.

"That is the key to my form. First and foremost I hope West Ham pick up three points, but if I can stop Dwight scoring then you can be sure I'll be wearing the broader smile at the end of the game."

Hislop first met Yorke when he was just eight-years-old.

They played in the Trinidad U-11 international team together.

Hislop said: "Dwight has always been an exceptional talent. Brian Lara was also in that side and all three of us have remained close friends."

Hislop's opposite number for today's vital clash is United stand-in keeper Raimond van der Gouw. The big Dutch stopper will take over from Peter Schmeichel - given a week off to relax in the Caribbean.

Van der Gouw has conceded just one goal in his last five starts for United. And Old Trafford boss Alex Ferguson - who knows his side need a victory to keep up their title challenge -has no hesitation in pitching him in. Fergie said: "Raimond is a terrific stand-in for Peter and he has never let us down.

"He has played in the semi-final of the European Cup and he has been excellent."

Van der Gouw gets his chance as Ferguson defiantly stands by his controversial rotation system.

He admits it is hard keeping fringe players happy, but insisted they will all get their turn.

He added: "This is the kind of pool we need. It's good for competition and it's for the long-term benefit of the club if we are to stay in the league, FA Cup and European Cup.

"There's still a lot of football to be played and they will all play their part.

"They all want to play and it's unfortunate that some of them have to be left out.

"But I hope they recognise the qualities of this club and the nature of football nowadays means they will all get their turn."