Alex Ferguson counting on Manchester United experience

Sir Alex Ferguson hopes Manchester United's vast experience of handling FA Cup semi-final nerves can prove crucial in tomorrow's derby clash with City at Wembley.

The Blues have reached this stage of the competition for the first time since 1981, when they edged out Ipswich before falling to Ricky Villa's memorable slalom goal for Tottenham in the final replay.

In contrast, United will be playing in their 10th semi of the Ferguson era, eight of which have been won, the only defeat coming to Everton on penalties two years ago.

Whilst Ferguson accepts playing such matches at Wembley rather than a club venue such as his personal favourite, Villa Park, has changed the nature of them, he still believes there is a uniqueness the respective sides have to combat before they can perform at their best.

"It can drain the players," he said.

"There is an impact in terms of the emotional build-up to the game.

"The fact it is at Wembley makes it more of an occasion, simply because of the name.

"Obviously it is a different stadium now. Those Twin Towers were a landmark and I wouldn't think the pitch is as tiring as the old Wembley because they have changed it so many times.

"It is a derby game in London, which is unusual but we are ready for it."

United are also well prepared in the sense that nearly all their major players are fit again.

Ferguson estimates combative midfielder Darren Fletcher is still a fortnight away from making a full recovery from the debilitating virus that has ruled him out since the beginning of March and caused him to lose so much weight.

But, apart from the Scotland skipper, and Owen Hargreaves, whose absence has been taken for granted for so long and who has played his final game for United unless tentative talks about his future result in a new contract, that would almost certainly be on a pay-per-play basis, the Red Devils are at full strength.

And that is exactly what Ferguson needs at this time of the season, with his side going full pelt for the treble on the back of seven straight wins, their best sequence of the entire campaign.

"We have got the momentum at the moment," said Ferguson.

"We are winning games, which is important at this time of the season.

"The consistency of the team has been good and we are playing well.

"Our players have a great determination. I am really pleased with that. It has given us a good chance."

All Ferguson has to do now is select the correct team.

His task is made slightly easier by the fact Wayne Rooney is suspended tomorrow.

Twenty-two goal Dimitar Berbatov is virtually certain to return, with Antonio Valencia set to join him.

Elsewhere, it is slightly more problematic, with Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs, Michael Carrick and Park Ji-sung, who expended so much energy in Tuesday's win over Chelsea, all vulnerable, no matter how desperately they want to be involved.

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