United leave stars behind for Galatasaray trip
MANCHESTER (AFP) –
Alex Ferguson has left several senior players at home ahead of Manchester United’s Champions League tie away to Galatasaray on Tuesday.
United have already secured qualification from the group stage and so have no need to take any undue risks with their star players in Istanbul.
England striker Wayne Rooney, who returned to training Monday after missing the shock weekend Premier League defeat by Norwich due to tonsilitis, was among those to miss out, as were top scorer Robin van Persie and Rio Ferdinand.
Patrice Evra, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, the only survivor from United’s 1993 ‘Welcome to Hell’ trip to Istanbul, were left out of the squad as well.
But among the senior players selected by veteran manager Ferguson are England midfielder Michael Carrick and Scotland’s Darren Fletcher, with the strike duo of Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck set to feature as well.
Goalkeeper David de Gea did not travel Monday, despite training after having his wisdom teeth removed last week.
Ferguson will still demand a decent display from his XI in Turkey.
And Carrick promised there would be no complacency come the knockout phase, where United have reached three finals, a semi-final and a quarter-final on the last five occasions they have gone beyond the group stage, irrespective of whether they got a ‘kind’ draw.
“You can drive yourself mad thinking about who you might get and all the various permutations,” he said. “We just have to win our games, which we have done, and see what the draw gives us.”
Looking ahead to the knockout stages, Carrick added: “That is the big test. That is when the competition really comes alive.”
United crashed out at the group stage last season but have won all four of their pool matches so far, even though they have been behind in three of those games, with Carrick’s goal ensuring Galastasaray were beaten at Old Trafford.
“It is a happier place because of what we are doing in the Champions League,” he said.
“Last year we were chasing our tails a bit and came up short. This year we have been ahead of the game.”