Injuries undermine United bid

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Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted it will be far harder for Manchester United to land the treble this season than it was in 1999.

United still have the chance to emulate their historic achievements of 12 seasons ago, even though they must overcome Chelsea in the Champions League, Manchester City in the FA Cup and retain their current status at the top of the Premier League. But it is not Ferguson's opponents that bother him so much as the mounting injuries he is having to contend with.

"It is going to be more difficult than it was in 1999," said the Red Devils boss. "We didn't have the injuries we do now. There is a great desire to do it but we have so many injuries to defenders at present. We will never give in though."

He added: "No matter what happens, you always feel Manchester United will score in the last minute.

"We must have a chance but it is more difficult than it has ever been."

Ferguson was speaking at a press conference to announce United's clash with the MLS All-Stars team at the Red Bull Arena on July 27, part of a five-match US tour that will conclude in Washington three days later with the Red Devils to face Barcelona.

By that time, the two clubs could have met in the Champions League final at Wembley.

Barca are the undoubted favourites for the competition and will meet Ukraine's Shakhtar Donetsk in the first leg of their quarter-final next week. However, a meeting with Pep Guardiola's men is something Ferguson would relish, even though old friend Harry Redknapp has labelled them the best club side ever.

"Hopefully they have reached their peak already," said Ferguson. "They are an example to everyone of how to play football.

"Xavi and Andres Iniesta show so much courage to always want to take the ball and they have the little magician Lionel Messi up front, who is wonderful to watch. People say they don't want to play against them. I think it is a privilege. It is the kind of challenge you want."

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