Fergie leaves Rooney on the bench for final

Wayne Rooney was left on the substitutes’ bench as Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson made seven changes for the Carling Cup final with Aston Villa.

And the exclusion of the in-form 27-goal striker meant Michael Owen was able to contemplate his first ever Wembley final as his replacement.

Ferguson also left out Ben Foster, Gary Neville, Wes Brown, Darron Gibson, Paul Scholes and the injured Anderson and brought in Tomasz Kuszczak, Rafael, Johnny Evans, Darren Fletcher, Michael Carrick and Ji-Sung Park.

Villa skipper Stiliyan Petrov had recovered from the virus that had forced him to miss the midweek FA Cup fifth-round replay with Crystal Palace and took over from youngster Fabian Delph.

Brad Friedel, James Collins and Emile Heskey returned after being rested and replaced Brad Guzan, Luke Young and John Carew respectively.

Aston Villa: Friedel, Cuellar, Collins, Dunne, Warnock, Ashley Young, Milner, Petrov, Downing, Heskey, Agbonlahor.

Subs: Guzan, Luke Young, Sidwell, Carew, Delfouneso, Delph, Beye.

Man Utd: Kuszczak, Rafael Da Silva, Vidic, Jonathan Evans, Evra, Valencia, Fletcher, Carrick, Park, Owen, Berbatov.

Subs: Foster, Neville, Brown, Rooney, Scholes, Gibson, Diouf.

Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)

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