UNDER-FIRE Vurnon Anita has been given a vote of confidence ahead the Wear-Tyne derby – because of his “courage”.
Anita, a contender to start against Sunderland on Sunday, has endured another tough season on Tyneside.
I’ve said to Vurnon Anita that he didn’t have a great day – but he never went missing. He didn’t go hiding, and that’s important for me.John Carver
The midfielder was replaced at half-time against Manchester City last month after conceding a penalty with just 30 seconds on the clock.
But the club’s injury crisis saw him recalled to the starting line-up against Arsenal earlier this month.
And head coach John Carver praised the Dutchman for his attitude – despite admitting he didn’t produce a good performance.
Carver said: “I’ve said to Vurnon Anita that he didn’t have a great day – but he never went missing.
“He didn’t go hiding, and that’s important for me.
“It’s easy when theres 52,000 people out there to go missing, but he showed great courage to continue to try and get on the ball.
“And what he did do defensively, he did some good jobs for us.”
Carver’s words of encouragement – coupled with his threadbare squad – means that Anita could keep his place against Sunderland on Sunday, even if fit-again Mehdi Abeid returns to the squad.
Abeid has missed the club’s last two games with a thigh injury.
But Carver is hopeful that the Algerian – who has returned to training – will be fit for the game at the Stadium of Light.
Defender Massadio Haidara is sidelined for the rest of the season after undergoing knee surgery last week.
And versatile midfielder Jack Colback will be needed to fill in at left-back again, meaning Anita, Abeid or Jonas Gutierrez – who came off the bench against Arsenal – are all vying to line up alongside stand-in skipper Moussa Sissoko in central midfield.
Carver was heartened by the character his patched-up team showed in the second half against Arsenal, who led 2-0 at the break.
Newcastle pulled a goal back and pushed hard for an equaliser.
And United will need more of that spirit and togetherness on Wearside against a side battling to retain its Premier League status.
“Every man jack of them stuck by their guns,” said Carver.
“Sometimes when you’re down to the bare bones, people come together and stick together, and I’ve certainly seen that in the performance.
“We talked how it’s our responsibility to get the fans going, and we certainly did that in the second half
“Even though we lost the game, they appreciate people having go for the team.”