Howard back for United

Tim Howard returned for the first time since September 15 as Alex Ferguson named a strong side for Manchester United’s Carling Cup opener at Crewe.

Tim Howard returned for the first time since September 15 as Alex Ferguson named a strong side for Manchester United’s Carling Cup opener at Crewe.

The American keeper has not played since his Champions League blunder against Lyon but he was one of nine full internationals in the visitors’ ranks as the two longest serving managers in England did battle for the first time.

Dario Gradi is in his 22nd season at Gresty Road, four more than Ferguson, who celebrates his 18th anniversary as United boss next month.

Rather than the usual United League Cup makeweights, the Crewe fans were offered the chance to watch Alan Smith, Louis Saha and Darren Fletcher in a side skippered for the first time by Wes Brown.

Crewe: Williams, Otsemobor, Billy Jones, Foster, Tonkin, Lunt, Sorvel, Cochrane, Vaughan, Ashton, Steve Jones. Subs: Ince, Walker, White, Mark Roberts, Rivers.

Man Utd: Howard, Brown, O’Shea, Miller, Richardson, Bellion, Kleberson, Djemba-Djemba, Fletcher, Smith, Saha. Subs: Spector, Eagles, Ricardo, Ebanks-Blake, Gerald Pique.

Referee: M Messias (S Yorkshire)

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