Most of the big names on the Manchester United squad have been spared from traveling to Turkey for tomorrow's UEFA Champions League tie with Galatasaray. The Red Devils have already clinched the top spot in Group H and therefore, manager Sir Alex Ferguson has decided to rest many key players for the final two group fixtures. Undoubtedly, the number one priority in the next few months for United will be on the Premier League title race. Here is the squad that traveled to Turkey:
Goalkeepers: Anders Lindegaard, Sam Johnstone
Defenders: Phil Jones, Tom Thorpe, Scott Wootton, Rafael, Alexander Buttner, Marnick Vermijl
Midfielders: Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley, Anderson, Darren Fletcher, Nick Powell, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Davide Petrucci, Ashley Young, Larnell Cole
Forwards: Javier Hernandez (Chicharito), Danny Welbeck, Joshua King, Federico Macheda
Perhaps the most intriguing thing from a United perspective is that Phil Jones makes his return from a lengthy layoff due to injury. Last week, Fergie earmarked this Galatasaray match for the young defender's comeback and this is what he further had to say during today's pre-match press conference:
"It's a big day for Phil Jones. He's been out all season but he's done enough training now to make sure his fitness is okay. I'm looking forward to bringing him back. Phil's had different types of injuries [in his United career so far]. He had concussion, he had a rib injury... but he's young so he's still to develop physically in terms of his body. He's only 20 years of age so there's plenty of time for him."
- Ferguson | Source: ManUtd.com
Quite obviously, just by examining the squad that traveled to Turkey, one can determine that changes are coming. Here is what Fergie had to say about that:
"We're in a great position. We've qualified so this is a matter that we play with some pride tomorrow and we have to be fair to the other teams in the group. We're making a lot of changes but the younger players all need games. And they have the experience to handle the situation tomorrow."
He further had this to say about the younger players:
"Most of them, apart from Nick Powell, will have experience of big games. Maybe Alexander Buttner too. But they're used to playing in front of big crowds. Obviously for Nick Powell it's completely different - he's played in front of 76,000 as a substitute but this will be his first European away game. It will be a big day for him but he has the temperament, which is important. We don't consider the young players a gamble. What we do consider is our reputation and we have to be fair to the other teams in the group. When we discussed the team for tomorrow we had to give serious consideration to how the media and the public would react, so we had to think hard about the team we picked."
It should also be noted that the likes of Nemanja Vidic, Jonny Evans, Nani, and Shinji Kagawa are all still injured while the other big names omitted from the squad is simply due to them being rested.
If you're curious about the reception United got at the airport, it was nothing like the 'Welcome to Hell' one they got in the early 1990s.
"We didn't get the greeting by the fans [this time] - we dodged that. In 1993 when we came here it was incredible. It was quite frightening. It was something new. We've been here a few times since so we're getting used to the Turkish fanaticism and enthusiasm. It's no issue for us."