Ahead of an Easter fixture pile-up, Sir Alex Ferguson is ready to take squad rotation to another level by playing two completely different starting eleven’s in the space of 48 hours.
His Manchester United side face a trip to the Stadium of Light to play Sunderland in the Premier League at 12:45pm on Saturday before taking on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge at 1:30pm on Easter Monday in the FA Cup quarter-final replay.
The fixtures come on the back of an international break that has seen players from all clubs fly around the world to represent their respective nations and this has led Ferguson to a radical approach to his team selections.
United have arranged for some of the longer distance travellers such as Javier Hernandez and Shinji Kagawa to be flown back on private jets in order to get them back to Carrington and available as soon as possible.
The Daily Mirror claim that Ferguson is ready to rest most of his key players for the trip north to play Martin O’Neill’s side on Saturday, before returning to the fold for Monday’s cup clash against Chelsea.
United’s 15-point lead in the league has given the United manager some room to play with and with Sunderland struggling down in 15th place he’ll be confident that they can still come away with a result.
So what will the teams actually look like?
Sunderland (a) - Saturday, March 30
Probable line-up: Lindegaard, Jones, Vidic, Smalling, Buttner, Scholes, Anderson, Valencia, Kagawa, Giggs, Hernandez.
Chelsea (a) – Monday, April 1
Probable line-up: De Gea, Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra, Cleverley, Carrick, Nani, Rooney, Welbeck, Van Persie
That would appear to be the most likely way that Sir Alex could field two completely different starting elevens, but in truth it’s likely a few constants will remain with David De Gea, Rafael and Michael Carrick amongst the favourites.
Nani, Phil Jones and Paul Scholes are all back in training following injuries but may not be ready to return to action, especially from the start, so may have to settle for a place on the bench.
The bench against Sunderland may make interesting reading as Ferguson could give chances to players from the Under-21’s such as Nick Powell and Marnick Vermijl.
Although such radical changes may seem self-destructive Ferguson is happy to play the long game.
With such a lead in the league he will risk the possibility of dropped points in order to make his point to the powers that be about fixture congestion, which has long been one of his bugbears.
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