United allowed to field weakened team says Scudamore

Manchester United have every right to field a weakened team against Hull City on Sunday even though it could have an impact on the relegation battle, Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore has said.

Manchester United, who clinched the Premier League title last weekend, face Barcelona in the Champions League final in Rome next Wednesday and manager Alex Ferguson is considering resting some of his senior players for the match at Hull.

"You can't alter the fact they've won the league and they've got the most significant game the following Wednesday against Barcelona," Scudamore told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"You have to be realistic: they've got a squad, and therefore you can't argue that they deploy the benefit of that squad in a game on Sunday."

Hull, however, are deeply involved in a battle to avoid relegation with Sunderland, Newcastle United and Middlesbrough.

Sunderland have 36 points, Hull 35, Newcastle 34 and Middlesbrough 32. West Bromwich Albion (31) are already down.

If Hull beat United they will avoid relegation and if they drew with United and Newcastle lost to Aston Villa they would stay up.

Scudamore believes that whatever team Ferguson names, they will still be going all out for a win.

"They are the most professional of professional football clubs," he said.

"Sir Alex Ferguson's going to put a team out that he intends to win that game on Sunday."

Ferguson has said that Rio Ferdinand, who has been nursing a calf injury, must play against Hull to prove his fitness for the Champions League final and that Darren Fletcher, who is suspended for the Rome match, will also play against Hull.

Sunderland manager Ricky Sbragia, whose side would go down if they lose to Chelsea and Newcastle and Hull both win, told reporters on Wednesday that even if United did field a weakened side, he still expected them to beat Hull.

"Manchester United will play a team that can beat Hull, it's as simple as that," he said.

Sbragia was United's reserve team boss for three years under Ferguson and added: "They have a lot of depth in their squad, some very good young players as well. They will totally believe they can win the game and that's all we can ask for. Alex won't put out a team of youth team players, I'll tell you that now."

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