Squad rotation will come into full effect over the next month, as Manchester United continue to challenge for trophies on three fronts.
Twelve points clear at the top of the Barclays Premier League, in a position of advantage at the halfway point of an absorbing Champions League tie with Real Madrid and still in the FA Cup, the Reds’ season is progressing exactly how manager Sir Alex Ferguson would have liked.
But with United about to embark on a run of five fixtures in 20 days, beginning with Reading’s visit to Old Trafford in the FA Cup fifth round on Monday night, Sir Alex knows he’ll need to call on all his first-team players to ensure the squad remains fit and fresh.
“I’ll make some changes on Monday,” he said. “It will be a different team. And it will be a different team again against QPR, a different team at Norwich, a different team against Madrid.”
Sir Alex has, of course, won all three major trophies once before, in 1999. And although the manager insists he’s not thinking about a potential repeat of the Treble – “at this moment in time I am just looking at winning our next match,” he insisted on Friday – he admits the Reds are better equipped to win multiple trophies now than in 1999.
“The squad I had then is not nearly as strong as the squad I have got today. But the reality is that we should not get carried away," he said.
“When we went to the Champions League final in 1999, Roy Keane and Paul Scholes were suspended, but Henning Berg was the only injury.
“I had to pull in a player, Jonathan Greening, who had only played once or twice in the first team. He got a medal for being on the bench. That gives you an idea of the strength of the squad.
“Now I could change a whole team. We have a whole group of internationals who weren't involved on Wednesday.”