Ferguson the reluctant shopper seeks left-back in January sales

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The Independent Football

Sir Alex Ferguson will look for a new left-back, but has indicated that he will otherwise make few moves to strengthen his squad in the January transfer window.

Manchester United have been linked with many big names, with thoughts of Dimitar Berbatov's arrival a particularly popular one with supporters, given Louis Saha's struggle with injuries and his indifferent displays in Wayne Rooney's absence. Ferguson's admission last month that he had twice made inquiries about Nicolas Anelka in the past also did little to remove speculation that he might buy again this season.

But Ferguson, who says he considers his current squad his strongest ever, does not tend to do that much business in the New Year sales and, with the memory of his struggle to get quick use out of Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic in 2006, this year appears likely to be no exception.

The left-back berth seems to be one exception. "Maybe we are short of cover in the left-back area now Gabriel Heinze has left but other than that, we are OK," Ferguson told Inside United magazine. United are said to be looking at Racing Santander's Argentine full-back Ezequiel Garay, with Real Madrid and Juventus also reportedly keen on the 21-year-old who is valued at 10m. Garay joined Racing from Argentine club side Newell's Old Boys two years ago and has been capped once by his country.

But, overall, the United manager remains cautious about the prospect of buying in the transfer window, a time when the clamour for players by clubs seeking survival as well as trophies can inflate prices. "I think the squad is good enough," Ferguson said. "We don't always get great joy in January. It takes time for players to settle in when they are midway through the season so we are conscious of that. I think the squad is good enough."

Sources in Portugal suggest that a move for Sporting Lisbon's midfielder Miguel Veloso, who impressed at Old Trafford in the Champions League last week, is unlikely to result in the player arriving immediately. Veloso is believed to fear that a role as a fringe player would diminish his standing in Portugal's squad for Euro 2008. The player has chosen United ahead of Milan, Valencia and Real Madrid as his preferred destination at the end of the season, according to Portuguese sources, and his coach has said that he is resigned to losing him.

Ferguson is evidently confident about Gary Neville's return to full fitness, despite the defender missing nine months with cruciate ligament and calf injuries. If he comes through training this week, Neville may return for United in Rome next week. Paul Scholes, Park Ji-Sung, Ben Foster and Mikaël Silvestre are also all due to return from major injuries at various points over the next few months, deepening his reserves of strength still further.

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