Relegation-haunted north-east trio Newcastle, Middlesbrough and Sunderland have dismissed claims they could sue Manchester United if they field a weakened team this weekend.
Reports on Wednesday morning suggested the three clubs had held discussions as they prepare for a decisive final round of Barclays Premier League fixtures on Sunday with the highest of stakes.
Hull, who are currently a point clear of 18th-placed Newcastle inside the drop zone, face United at the KC Stadium four days before the newly-crowned domestic title-holders defend their Champions League crown against Barcelona in Rome.
Sir Alex Ferguson has already indicated he will use the depth of his squad with nothing but pride at stake for his club.
Middlesbrough, who face West Ham at Upton Park, need the Tigers to lose if they are to have a chance of staying up, while the Magpies have to record a better result than Phil Brown's men if they are to survive.
Sunderland could go down if they lose to Chelsea and both Newcastle and Hull win, meaning all three of the north-east clubs have a vested interest in the side Ferguson sends out.
However, each were quick to deny they are ready to go to the courts on the basis of Premier League rules which require member clubs to field full-strength teams.
A Newcastle spokesman said: "There's no truth in it whatsoever."
Sunderland refused to comment on the story, but insisted there was no foundation to it, while a Boro spokesman said: "It's not true, it's nonsense."
Newcastle boss Alan Shearer was asked about the kind of side he expected Ferguson to field at Hull in the immediate aftermath of Saturday's 1-0 home defeat by Fulham. He said: "Alex, when he has been in that position, has always put out a side that does his club proud, so whoever he puts out, Manchester United are that professional so they will go out and try to win that game. I have not got any problems with that."
Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: http://gms.to/writeforgms