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Friday, 14 July, 2000, 15:43 GMT
Irwin ready for fight
Denis Irwin, Gary Neville and team mates
Irwin wants to win trophies and play in the big games, not watch them
Denis Irwin has hinted he would leave Manchester United if he lost his first-team place.

Irwin, who has been United's regular left-back during his ten years at Old Trafford, claims he could not bear to watch from the sidelines.

Nigel Winterburn left Arsenal this summer to join West Ham after he lost his starting place at Highbury and Irwin sympathises with the plight of his fellow veteran left-back.

Irwin, who could set a new attendance record for a testimonial when Manchester City visit Old Trafford on August 16, said: "I've always said it would be very hard for me if I wasn't in the team.

Nigel Winterburn
Winterburn lost out and moved on
"I think Nigel Winterburn has found the same this year and he's moved on.

"I like playing and I've played so many big games here that if I started watching big games, I think it would be a major disappointment for me."

Irwin, who will be 35 in October, has no intention of leaving Old Trafford just yet. He signed a new one-year contract with the Premier League champions in the summer and is determined to hold on to the left-back spot.

"I'm going to fight tooth and nail to stay and hang on to that first-team place," said the former Republic of Ireland international.

His task has been made slightly easier by Danny Higginbotham's 2m move to Derby.

Danny Higginbotham
Higginbotham's trying his luck at Derby
Higginbotham was the only natural left-back at United, but Irwin knows he still faces stiff competition from Phil Neville, while Mickael Silvestre can also play on the left hand side.

"Obviously Danny felt he's going to get a first-team opportunity straight away at Derby," Irwin added.

"Hopefully I will be here for a while yet and you've also got Phil Neville there and Mickael Silvestre so Danny had a bit of a way to go and probably felt it was the right time to go."

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01 Jul 00 |  Man Utd
Ferguson backs his boys
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