EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS

02/02/2012 09:59, Report by Nick Coppack
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Rafael rates rival defenders

After missing much of the first half of the season, Rafael da Silva tells United Review and ManUtd.com that he's determined to play his part in helping United retain the Barclays Premier League...

How would you describe your season so far?
It’s been a little difficult, obviously. I had a bad injury to my shoulder in August but now I’ve recovered and I’ve managed to play a few games. I just hope I can enjoy a better second half of the season than the first.

While you were out, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and even Antonio Valencia have played at right-back. Do you welcome the extra competition?
Of course. It’s a good thing when you have that sort of competition. When I watch Phil or Chris play at right back I just think, “Wow. Okay, I’m going to have to work even harder now if I want to get back in the team.” They’ve done really well.

How difficult is it to watch the games when you’re not playing?
It’s very, very hard. Being injured is the worst feeling in the world, but you can’t let yourself get too down. You just have to work hard, come into the training ground every day and do the exercises you know will help you recover. The staff here help a lot with that – they’re very good at varying the exercises, which keeps it interesting. Watching the games is the most difficult part, though. You’re in the stands but all you want to do is get out there and help.

You seem unlucky with injuries...
I know! Some of my injuries, you just don’t hear about people having them very often. I’ve dislocated my right shoulder twice now and needed an operation to help it heal. It’s not usual for footballers to injure shoulders. And twice! I can only say it must be down to bad luck.

Is it anything to do with your committed style of play?
I don’t know. Maybe. But that’s the way I

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