Sir Alex Ferguson is ready to display the huge strength in depth at his disposal as Manchester United bid to stretch their advantage at the top of the English Premier League to six points.
The Old Trafford manager will ring the changes as the leaders go in search of their latest victory against relegation-threatened Middlesbrough at a 34,000-sell-out Riverside Stadium today.
Ferguson’s line-up will be barely recognizable from that which gained a single goal advantage over Arsenal in the Champions League semi-final in midweek, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick all set to be rested.
Captain Rio Ferdinand, who is ruled out with a rib injury, is likely to be the only enforced changed with Paul Scholes, Park Ji-sung, Nani, Darron Gibson, Jonny Evans, Wes Brown, Danny Welbeck and Federico Macheda ready to come in.
United go into their second leg against Arsenal at the Emirates barely 72 hours after their trip to Teesside in a congested end-of-season fixture schedule, and Ferguson is anxious to allow his high-profile names chance to rest as they close in on a quadruple of trophies.
He said: “I’ve got a squad and I intend to use it. The midfield will change and the players up front will also probably change.”
“I’ll bring some freshness into the team in some important areas but I won’t change my back four, which will be much the same apart from Rio. I’ve got a bigger squad to cope,” the Scot said.
Ferguson remains unhappy at the timing of the game, and added: “We have to play a team to win against Middlesbrough. It’s a lunchtime kick-off, which I don’t think is right, but our away performances have been excellent and we just have to get on with it.”
• La New Bears 7, Sinon Bulls 6
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• Sinon Bulls v La New Bears
• Brother Elephants v Uni-President Lions
Second-bottom Middlesbrough are three points adrift of safety after claming just two victories in their last 22 league games.
Despite their hopes being written off in most quarters, Boro are confident of pulling off a shock against a United team they have only lost to three times in their last eight home meetings.