Manchester United v Ajax: Match Preview

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Manchester United v Ajax

Old Trafford; Europa League last 32, second leg; Thursday, 23rd February; 2005 KO

Team News

Wayne Rooney is the main absentee for Manchester United, with the England striker out of contention with a bad throat.

Chris Smalling and Tom Cleverley are also in contention to start, whilst Dimitar Berbatov is fit again to return to action. Ryan Giggs will make a 900th appearance if he features.

Paul Pogba could also be a surprise inclusion in the starting XI, with press reports earlier in the week claiming the Frenchman could get his big chance to shine.

As for Ajax, they have a host of injury problems with Nicolai Boilesen, Dmitri Bulykin, Theo Janssen, Gregory van der Wiel and Eyong Enoh all set to miss out. Veteran defender Andre Ooijer could return, however.

Fergie demands United focus

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson won’t be taking the challenge of Ajax lightly, despite a two-goal advantage against the Eredivisie champions.

Goals from Ashley Young and Javier Hernandez in the first leg have put the Red Devils firmly in command, but the experience of losing a lead against FC Basel in the Champions League will serve as a warning to the players.

"The experience we had against Basel, where we were 2-0 up at half-time, that's in our memories,” said the Scot.

“I don't think we'll be casual or careless about what we're trying to achieve tomorrow but it's a good lead. You can't dispute that."

Ajax boss Frank De Boer is also hoping to take something from Basel’s turnaround at Old Trafford, with the Godenzonen hoping to follow in the footsteps of the Swiss side on their trip to England.

"Basel managed to draw with United and we are trying to do something similar here as them - get a result,” said the Dutch legend.

“We are not here just to see the scenery and we will see after the game what the result is."

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Europa League
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