Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson is expected to use several fringe players when his team faces Schalke on Wednesday in the second leg of the Champions League semifinals.
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Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs, who scored in the 2-0 win in the first leg, are set to be rested for the Premier League match against Chelsea four days later.
”I will probably keep my experienced players at the back,” Ferguson said. ”We have a big week ahead … two massive games, so we will regroup and freshen it up.”
Although Rooney is set to be rested at Old Trafford, Ferguson could still deploy Dimitar Berbatov alongside Michael Owen.
”Let’s not forget that Dimitar is still our top scorer,” Owen said. ”He has only not been scoring lately because he has not been playing as much. Overall, the strikers have dovetailed quite well. Everyone has chipped in at certain parts of the season.
”Wayne almost carried us right the way through last season. This year other people have come in to fill the void. It has been a great effort all round.”
United could have had a record 19th English league title almost wrapped up by now. The weekend results, though, weren’t good for Ferguson’s side.
Second-place Chelsea continued its revival with a victory over Tottenham to move within three points of United, which lost at Arsenal.
”Our destiny is still in our own hands,” United defender Patrice Evra said. ”We have two massive games coming up, against Schalke and Chelsea. We must focus on recovering for the Schalke game but we also know if we want to win the title we have to beat Chelsea. If we don’t beat them we are going to be in trouble. We don’t want to be in trouble.
”But I have to say, I am not worried. Against Arsenal, we did not do the things we normally do. Hopefully it was an accident because we have five games left. Every one is like a final. We need to win them all.”
The Red Devils will only have five game to play this month if they finish the job against Schalke to reach a third Champions League final in four years. Barcelona or Real Madrid awaits in the May 28 final at Wembley Stadium.
Schalke’s departure for Manchester on Monday was delayed by two hours because of visa issues for its players from outside the European Union – Jefferson Farfan (Peru), Atsuto Uchida (Japan), Ali Karimi (Iran), Junmin Hao (China) and Edu (Brazil).