Manchester United took off for Amsterdam today ahead of their Thursday Europa League tie with Ajax and three notable names were not amongst the 20-player squad that traveled: Ryan Giggs, Patrice Evra, and Dimitar Berbatov. The former two likely remained home to preserve their long-term fitness while the exclusion of the latter is a bit surprising -- perhaps the Bulgarian striker is carrying a knock. Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Nani and Tom Cleverley all appear recovered from their recent injuries as each has been included in the squad for this match. Here is the full 20-man squad that traveled to Amsterdam:
* Goalkeepers: David de Gea, Ben Amos
* Defenders: Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Rafael, Fabio, Zeki Fryers
* Central-midfielders: Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes, Tom Cleverley, Paul Pogba
* Wingers: Antonio Valencia, Park Ji-sung, Nani, Ashley Young
Darren Fletcher and captain Nemanja Vidic are both still ruled out for the season while the likes of Anders Lindegaard, Anderson, and Michael Owen are still out for the near-term with injuries. For this match, United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has claimed that he would play his "strongest team." While deploying a strong side is obvious when one scans this 20-man traveling squad, preservation is likely on the mind of the United boss as the 38-year-old Giggs and vice-captain Evra -- who has logged heavy minutes this season -- being left behind indicates. This way of thinking may also hint at a rest for Ferdinand -- who has a chronic back issue -- and for the 37-year-old Scholes -- who has been involved in all 7 matches since his return from retirement. Cleverley is a strong candidate to start alongside Carrick in the center of the park. United have no game at the weekend so that is not a concern for Fergie when he selects his side tomorrow.