American Tim Howard Getting His Shot Again With Manchester United

By Aris Ohanessian USSoccerUK.Com- Handed a start over the weekend by Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson Tim Howard may be set to wrest back the mantle of the number one shirt at the club.

The former MetroStar was part of United's winning team over Portsmouth this past Saturday his first appearance since January 26.

The win brings United within six points of the Premiership-leading Chelsea with less than a third of the season to go. It was somewhat of a surprise pulled by Ferguson after not blaming Roy Carroll for a mistake made midweek dropping the Northern Ireland international in favor of Howard.

"Roy Carroll made a big mistake on Wednesday said Ferguson after the win over Portsmouth Saturday - a comment that went against the United manager's midweek claims that he did not hold Carroll at fault for the loss to AC Milan in the Champions League.

"I don't think he was totally responsible but maybe he is better out of it so I can give Tim Howard his go. We have the important game in Milan looming in 10 days time and I want to see how Tim responds to the challenge."

Carroll is out of contract at the end of the summer and Ferguson may be handing Howard a chance in the remainder of the season to prove that Manchester United does not need to purchase a keeper in the summer.

The start this weekend came on the heels of a disputed story in the Daily Mail in which U.S. manager Bruce Arena criticized Ferguson for allowing Howard to be made a "scapegoat" for United's problems this season. Arena's comments whether true or not likely had little to no impact on any personnel changes Ferguson made.

United faces Crystal Palace in the Premiership this Saturday prior to the second leg against Milan at the San Siro next Wednesday. Unless he is hurt trains poorly this week or Ferguson has a change of heart Howard is likely to remain in the starting lineup.

Howard's backline was without Rio Ferdinand against Portsmouth and the England international should strengthen United's defense that much more.

Howard who turns 26 on Sunday has had a rocky second season at Old Trafford after a stellar first season. But success down the stretch could give Ferguson enough comfort in his play at goalkeeper not to bring in a big-name replacement for both Howard and Carroll. It is however likely that if Carroll leaves Manchester United Ferguson would bring in another keeper to give Howard competition.