Manchester United trio Ryan Giggs, Dimitar Berbatov and Patrice Evra to miss Ajax tie

 

Ryan Giggs, Dimitar Berbatov and Patrice Evra were all absent as Manchester United headed to Amsterdam on their first Europa League trip this morning.

Giggs' next United appearance will be his 900th, but it was always likely that after playing such an impressive part in his club's Premier League title charge, he would be excused a last-32 first-leg meeting with Ajax.

It was anticipated Berbatov and Evra would be involved, although with no official injury update, the reason for their absences is not likely to become known until this evening's pre-match press conference.

There was good news on the injury front though as Nani and Phil Jones both returned after recent absences.

In addition, Ashley Young and Tom Cleverley were named in a 20-man squad, along with youngsters Paul Pogba and Zeki Fryers.

Tomorrow's game will be the first time United have competed in a European match outside the Champions League since 1995, when they were beaten on away goals by Russian outfit Rotor Volgograd in a UEFA Cup first round tie.

However, whilst it might mean a Thursday night debut on Channel Five, a meeting with Ajax does sound like a Champions League game.

Striker Javier Hernandez accepts the Red Devils would have preferred to be in the main UEFA competition this week.

However, if they are to make their Europa League bow, there are few more famous names to do it against than the Dutch giants, who with four European Cups to their name have one more than the Red Devils.

"Both teams have come out of the Champions League and they both have a great history," said Hernandez.

"We have won a lot of European Cups between us, so it will be a very interesting game.

"We need to get used to the fact we are not in the Champions League this season.

"And the history of Manchester United is such that it doesn't matter which competition you are in, we want to win it, no matter who else is in it or whether it is an important trophy for other teams."

That Manchester City are potential opponents in the quarter-finals and beyond does give this European excursion added spice, even if a failure to beat Benfica or Basel in any of four group stages matches is not European form to get anyone worrying too much.

And, having maintained closer contact to City in the Premier League than most pundits expected on the night of that debacle in Switzerland, Sir Alex Ferguson may well take the opportunity to rest some key men before the domestic campaign resumes at Norwich on February 26.

That could offer an opportunity for Hernandez, whose appearances this term have been limited due to a combination of injury and Danny Welbeck's outstanding form.

"It has been a little bit frustrating because I have been injured a lot," he said.

"But there are some things you can't do anything about.

"I am happy and I am still enjoying it. It is a privilege to play for Manchester United, whether things are going good or bad, I want to keep that attitude."

That is the kind of unselfishness Ferguson adores.

And Hernandez is genuinely delighted at Welbeck's emergence.

"Danny Welbeck is a brilliant player," he said.

"He is only young but he went to Sunderland and did great things there. Then he came back here and has been unbelievable.

"That doesn't upset me, competition is normal at a club like this.

"You need to be at your best to help the team. That is the most important thing."

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power