Neville ready to battle for place
© AFP

Fit-again Manchester United captain Gary Neville warned on Saturday that he is ready to battle for a first-team place at Old Trafford.

Neville knows he will need to fight for his place after Wes Brown stepped in during his 15-month absence with a broken ankle, hamstring and calf injuries. Brown was preferred by manager Sir Alex Ferguson at the end of last season, including during the Champions League final with Chelsea.

"My challenge this season is not only to stay fit, but to make my way into the team again," the 33-year-old told thefa.com. "That's going to be difficult because of the way Wes performed and also Owen Hargreaves and John O'Shea in the right-back position.

"The competition for places throughout the team is fantastic. But I have never been afraid of a challenge and I don't see it as a pressure or a burden. It is exciting and a fantastic incentive."

Neville is expected to feature on Sunday when United tackle FA Cup winners Portsmouth in the Community Shield. And he thinks he could be facing one of the Premier League's new top four.

"Harry Redknapp has done a fantastic job getting the players that he has brought in," Neville said. "Winning the FA Cup was a great achievement, and they can only push on from there. You really are talking about a side with great strength and ability.

"Portsmouth are very difficult to beat with their physical strength - and mixed in with that, they have some hugely skilful players. With the players they have, there is nothing to say they can't push on and challenge the top four."