Cup exit has silver lining for Ferguson

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Football News

Sir Alex Ferguson does not understand why it has taken Manchester United getting knocked out of the FA Cup to have a proper preparation for next week's Champions League encounter with AC Milan.

While Ryan Giggs' broken arm deprives Ferguson of a valuable option, the United boss can at least tailor the build-up to Tuesday's visit to the San Siro exactly as he wants. Although Ferguson would have preferred his team not to lose to League One opposition on home soil last month, defeat to old rivals Leeds has provided an unexpected free weekend ahead of the reunion with David Beckham.

"In terms of preparing for a European tie we are pleased to have a free weekend," said Ferguson. "AC Milan are playing on Friday night. That is the kind of help European teams get from their countries. We don't get that here."

He added: "By fortune we don't have a game on Saturday because we are out of the FA Cup and we are going to take full advantage of it.

"The players will have a couple of days off because they have worked hard and we will start again on Saturday."

Although Nani is available because the three-match ban he collected for his foul on Stiliyan Petrov on Wednesday evening only covers domestic games, the loss of Giggs is still a major blow.

While Giggs no longer features in every Red Devils game, the 36-year-old's importance cannot be underestimated.

Arguably, the veteran Welshman is playing to a more consistent level than in his entire career and with 11 league titles in his trophy collection, his experience at key points in the season is invaluable.

The only good news to come from an x-ray he underwent following his second-half collision with Steve Sidwell is that a four-week absence suggests the damage is relatively minor.

Giggs should therefore be back before the crunch encounter with Liverpool at Old Trafford on March 31, plus the Champions League quarter-finals the following month, if United make it that far.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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Ryan Giggs
David Beckham
Stiliyan Petrov
Premier League
Manchester United
Steve Sidwell
Leeds United

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