Crystal Palace defeat will not damage youngsters insists Alex Ferguson


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The Independent Football

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson expects his younger players to learn from Wednesday's humbling Carling Cup loss to Crystal Palace.

Ferguson apologised to supporters after his side were dumped out in the quarter-finals of the competition by the npower Championship side, who won 2-1 after extra time at Old Trafford.

Ferguson had made 10 changes for tie but still started with an experienced side featuring the likes of Dimitar Berbatov, Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans, Park Ji-sung, Antonio Valencia, Fabio and Rafael da Silva.

He introduced prospects Ezekiel Fryers (19), Ravel Morrison (18) and Paul Pogba (18) off the bench and later admitted it had been hard for them to impress in such a game.

Ferguson told MUTV: "It is hard to come on when the team is not playing well around them. It was a difficult night for them but it won't do them any harm."

Ferguson did not want to spend much time discussing the reasons for the loss.

United drew level after a Federico Macheda penalty cancelled out a Darren Ambrose wonder strike, but Glenn Murray settled the tie with a 98th-minute header, despite a hint of offside.

Ferguson said: "They started very well for 10 minutes but then we got a lot of possession and didn't do anything with it.

"I don't think their goalkeeper made a save in the first half. Maybe we were playing too much short passing. There wasn't enough spread in the game.

"I am not going to dwell and go into the ins and outs of it all. At the end of the day it has been a very disappointing night for Manchester United."

A number of rested stars are likely to return as United switch their focus back to Barclays Premier League matters tomorrow.

The champions travel to Aston Villa hoping to prevent Manchester City's five-point lead at the top of the table getting any bigger.

Defender Evans said: "The games are coming thick and fast and the manager will need his squad. So we need to pick ourselves up and hopefully win on Saturday."

The Da Silva brothers and Berbatov could be doubtful for the weekend after suffering injuries in the Palace clash.