EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS

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

didn’t plan to get injured at the same time. Definitely not! My brother’s always a big help to me when I’m injured, though, and I try and do the same for him when he’s out. It’s good to have somebody there to keep you positive.

So, how relieved are you to be back now?
I came back against Crystal Palace in the Carling Cup but picked up another small injury in that game. That was disappointing and it knocked my confidence a little but I played again against Blackburn on New Year’s Eve and I’ve played a few times since then. Every game helps and I think I’ve done quite well, so I’m confident I can get better and better.

Sir Alex played you in midfield against Blackburn. Were you surprised?
A little bit, yeah. But I’ve played there before for United so I knew what was expected of me. When the manager told me I was playing in midfield I wasn’t worried. I just thought, “I’m ready, let’s play!”. I’m a professional footballer so I’ll play anywhere. I probably did a little better when I moved back to my normal position, but I felt comfortable in midfield and would do it again. Maybe I’ll move there for good when I get a bit older. You never know! After all, look at Ryan Giggs and the way he has changed over the years. He’s even played at left back once or twice.

What have you made of the team’s performances this season?
At the beginning, we were unbelievable. It was brilliant. Now, it might not be so spectacular but we are still getting results. To be right up there alongside Manchester City is a big achievement when you consider the injuries we’ve had. We’ve had a lot of them this season and a lot of bad luck, too. But there’s no point complaining about those things. And anyway, we’re still in a good position.

What are your ambitions between now and May?
In many ways, it feels like it’s only the beginning of the season for me. I know it’s the end of January already, but I’m just getting started. So I’m really looking forward to playing as many games as possible and, hopefully, helping the team win another title.

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