FOOTBALL NEWS

22/02/2012 15:10, Report by Nick Coppack

Young Reds to face Ajax

Sir Alex Ferguson will treat Thursday night's Europa League clash against Ajax as an opportunity to hand game time to those players who most need it... and many of them are relative newcomers to European football.

The Reds hold a 2-0 lead going into the second leg, and although the Manchester United manager isn't expecting an easy match against the Dutch champions, he took the unusual step of revealing a large chunk of his team more than 24 hours before kick-off.

"There are a lot of players who need a game, players who haven't been playing lately," Sir Alex said at his pre-match press conference. "Nani, Ashley Young, Javier Hernandez, Tom Cleverley, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones... they all need games and they'll all play tomorrow in whatever position I decide to play them. Then we'll hope to get a sprinkling of experience amongst it."

The boss also admitted there's a chance Paul Pogba could gain some valuable first-team experience. The 18-year-old Frenchman has yet to start a senior match for United, but has been involved in a number of matchday squads and was an unused substitute in Amsterdam last Thursday.

"It's possible," Sir Alex conceded, "but it depends on the rest of the team."

One player who certainly won't feature is Wayne Rooney, who Sir Alex ruled out with a "bad throat". United's medical staff are working hard to try and get the striker fit for the Reds' Barclays Premier League trip to Norwich on Sunday.

More: Vintage video of United v Ajax | Gallery: Ajax training

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