Manchester United Vs Tottenham Hotspur, Mon 22 Aug 2011

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Football News

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is relishing watching his latest crop of young guns blaze a new trail at Old Trafford.

It was Alan Hansen who once famously remarked of Ferguson's 1995/96 side that "you never win anything with kids", only for United to claim the double that year.

The team beaten 3-1 by Aston Villa on the opening day 16 years ago that prompted Hansen's quote was, on average, a year older than the one that finished Sunday's 2-1 season-opening victory at West Brom.

With the likes of Gary Neville and Paul Scholes now retired, it is a sign of the times that youth is again at the forefront at United as Ferguson masterminds the latest rejuvenation of his squad.

"We were always aware we had players who were coming to the end of their careers. That has been on the horizon for us for quite a few years," said Ferguson.

"We knew it was going to happen, you don't want it to, but it does and there's nothing you can do about it. Age catches up with us all.

"So we've replaced the players who have left us, and we've still players at the club in their 30s, which is a lot of experience.

"At some point when the young players may hit a pocket there will be enough experience to augment the challenge we're after this year.

"It is a very young team at the moment, but it's one full of energy and of great ability, and I'm enjoying watching them."

It is likely there will be only one player over 30 in the starting line-up for the visit of Tottenham, with Patrice Evra returning at left-back after missing the game at The Hawthorns with an ankle injury.

With skipper Nemanja Vidic sidelined for up to five weeks with a calf injury and fellow centre-back Rio Ferdinand almost certainly out with a hamstring problem, youth will most evidently be on show in defence.

Aside from Evra, ahead of 20-year-old goalkeeper David De Gea, new signing Phil Jones and Jonny Evans, 19 and 23 respectively, line up at the heart, with 21-year-old Chris Smalling in at right-back.

"I'm not worried about the young players filling in at the back," added Ferguson.

Meanwhile, Jake Livermore has told manager Harry Redknapp that he is ready for a run in Tottenham's first team after impressing on his European debut this week.

Livermore, 21, bagged his first strike for the club on Thursday when he stroked home from 18 yards to score the third goal of the club's 5-0 Europa League play-off demolition of Hearts.

The Enfield-born midfielder looked calm and assured as he put on a strong display in Luka Modric's absence to maintain his impressive pre-season form.

Livermore has been sent on loan to no fewer than six Football League teams since he started his Spurs career in 2006, but he is now determined to stake a claim for a regular place in Redknapp's first XI, starting with the trip to Old Trafford.

Redknapp has already pinpointed Livermore as one of the players he intends to play regularly in the Europa League this season but a number of injuries in midfield may mean that he gets a run in the early stages of the club's Barclays Premier League campaign too.

The youngster admits that decision lies with Redknapp, but he is confident that he can deliver if called upon.

"Hopefully I can keep myself in the team now. I believe I am ready for the first team but it's just a matter of getting the chance," Livermore said.

"It's difficult to get in because we have such a strong squad throughout. It's hard for the manager. All you can do when you see your name on the team sheet is go out there and give it your all. You never know. We have a few injuries. I'll just have to wait and see."

Luka Modric is likely to return to Tottenham's starting line-up after missing the 5-0 win over Hearts with a minor groin injury.

Tom Huddlestone (ankle) could also return after starting on the bench at Tynecastle, but fellow midfielders Sandro, Wilson Palacios (both knee) Steven Pienaar (groin), and Jermaine Jenas (Achilles) are all out.

Peter Crouch (ankle) will undergo a late test but Ledley King and Alan Hutton are sidelined with knee injuries and William Gallas is also out with a calf problem.

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Chris Smalling
Tom Huddlestone
Ledley King
Phil Jones
Premier League
Peter Crouch
Manchester United
Patrice Evra
Jermaine Jenas
Jake Livermore
Nemanja Vidic
Paul Scholes
Luka Modric
Alan Hutton
Gary Neville
Steven Pienaar
Jonny Evans
Alan Hansen
William Gallas
Wilson Palacios
Rio Ferdinand

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