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Football: Moyes backs Mata to plug van Persie gap

Published on Mar 25, 2014 12:45 AM

MANCHESTER (AFP) - Manchester United manager David Moyes believes record signing Juan Mata can help fill the void left by Robin van Persie in the derby against Manchester City at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

Dutch striker van Persie is set to miss six to eight weeks with a sprained knee and that could leave Spain midfielder Mata, who joined from Chelsea for 37.1 million pounds (S$77.8 million) in January playing a more central role.

Since his arrival, Mata has mainly been employed on the right flank to enable Moyes to also accommodate van Persie and Wayne Rooney.

Moyes has been pleased with Mata's performances, particularly in the 2-0 win at West Ham on Saturday and expects him to make even more of an impact in the weeks ahead as faltering Premier League champions United, 11 points off fourth place, bid to derail the title challenge of third-placed City.

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