No favouritism at United, vows Fergie

ALEX FERGUSON has vowed not to give preferential treatment to Oliver Gill, even though the son of chief executive David Gill has been drafted in as emergency cover for Manchester United’s Champions League encounter with Wolfsburg.

With 12 players injured, Ryan Giggs rested and Owen Hargreaves still to make an appearance this term following major knee surgery, Ferguson has been forced to delve into his B-list of players just to make up a squad

Youngsters who have spent two years with a club academy can be added to the original list of 25 players United must supply to UEFA at the start of the competition.

It meant five were on the flight to Germany yesterday, with even United’s legion of autograph hunters forced to ask their names for confirmation.

But, having once had his own son Darren on the playing staff, Ferguson is not likely to give 19-year-old defender Gill an easy path into the first team.

“It doesn’t concern me. If he is good enough, he plays,” said Ferguson.

“That is the name of the game at Manchester United. I had my own son in the squad for four or five years and he was treated exactly the same as any other member of the squad.

“It will be the same for Oliver.”

It is a measure of United’s injury problems that Gill is one of only two natural defenders in the 19-man party.

The other, Patrice Evra, is apparently being persuaded to play in central defence against his better judgement, even though he will be giving almost a foot in height to Wolfsburg striker Edin Dzeko.

“[Playing with] one defender, it is worth trying,” joked Ferguson. “It would be easy to organise anyway.”

In truth, Michael Carrick is already earmarked for one central defensive berth while Darren Fletcher will also figure somewhere in the back four, depending on how successful Ferguson is at winning Evra round.

Ferguson’s mind is wandering to Saturday’s encounter with Aston Villa and how many of his injury victims might return.

John O’Shea and Jonny Evans have no chance, having been ruled out until next month with a severe dead leg and a calf injury respectively.

Nemanja Vidic should have shrugged off his flu virus by the weekend and while Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov are expected to have recovered from hamstring and knee injuries, the only other potential comeback to face Villa is Wes Brown, who limped out of Saturday’s win at West Ham with a hamstring injury.

“We hope we can get Wes fit but it is not going to be an easy one,” said the United boss.

“That is my concern at the moment, getting players back from injury.

“I have to look at the bigger picture. I have to look at Saturday and future league games after that. The truth is we have already qualified from this group.”

Ferguson also distanced himself from speculation linking Edin Dzeko with a move to United.

The 23-year-old Bosnian is one of the most highly-rated young strikers in Europe, having scored 40 times in 75 Bundesliga appearances.

A host of top clubs are said to be interested in Bosnian star Dzeko, with United reportedly among them after he scored Wolfsburg’s goal in the German side’s 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford in September.

Even though at the weekend his assistant Mike Phelan admitted there could be interest in the player by the Red Devils, Ferguson is not adding fuel to the flames. “It’s an age-old story,” he said. “Every time someone does well against Manchester United we are going to buy him. There is nothing at this moment concerning Edin Dzeko.”


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