Berbatov poised to face AC Milan

Monday 08 March 2010 11:24
Berbatov will replace Rooney should the England striker be deemed unfit
Berbatov will replace Rooney should the England striker be deemed unfit

Dimitar Berbatov could take a key role in Manchester United's Champions League clash with AC Milan on Wednesday if the Red Devils are without first-leg hero Wayne Rooney.

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has stated that Rooney is a major doubt for the Old Trafford match, into which his side will take a 3-2 lead following the England striker's two headed goals at the San Siro.

Reports today, however, have claimed Rooney could still be involved.

Rooney missed Saturday's 1-0 win over Wolves at Molineux, in which Paul Scholes hit his 100th league goal for United, after aggravating a knee injury during England's midweek victory over Egypt.

"Wayne is very doubtful for Wednesday," said Ferguson. "The Wembley pitch has killed him."

Rooney featured in two matches over four days at Wembley, playing more than half of the Carling Cup final after Michael Owen was forced off through injury and then 86 minutes for England.

With Owen ruled out for the rest of the season, Berbatov would start if Rooney is ruled out. And Ferguson has confirmed the Bulgarian, who played the full 90 minutes against Wolves, is in the frame for the crunch European game.

United went two points clear at the top of the Barclays Premier League after taking a slender victory from an under-par performance, however second-placed Chelsea have a game in hand.

"It is another away game off the list and it is a good victory because we knew Wolves were going to fight," Ferguson said.

"We've had many results like this over the years and it could be significant."

Wolves manager Mick McCarthy took issue with Ferguson's claim that United were the better side, describing the suggestion as "great propaganda".

The title race involves a third team as Arsenal moved level on points with Chelsea by beating Burnley 3-1 at the Emirates Stadium. Like United, Arsene Wenger's side have played one more match than Chelsea.

Cesc Fabregas, Theo Walcott, and Andrey Arshavin scored Arsenal's goals, with David Nugent having briefly put Burnley level early in the second half.

As with United, Arsenal also have a major scare to contend with heading into their Champions League clash with Porto on Tuesday.

They could be without inspirational captain Fabregas who was replaced five minutes after his first-half strike.

"He has a hamstring problem and how big the damage is we don't know yet because it's too early," Wenger said.

"We have to make a late decision over whether he plays on Tuesday, certainly."

Both Wolves and Burnley may have had one eye on Saturday's events at Upton Park where their fellow strugglers West Ham and Bolton met.

Bolton boss Owen Coyle saw his team clinch a fine 2-1 victory which lifted them five points clear of the relegation zone, two points better off than the Hammers.

Jack Wilshere, on loan from Arsenal, rifled home Bolton's second goal after Kevin Davies had put them ahead.

Bolton finished with 10 men after Tamir Cohen was sent off, and Alessandro Diamanti curled in an 88th-minute consolation strike.

Former Burnley manager Coyle said: "I'm led to believe this is my first away win in the Premier League but I wasn't conscious of that. I knew it was just around the corner.

"There's no doubt it was a massive three points. If the players keep giving me that effort we will get enough points to keep us safe."

West Ham's defending was calamitous throughout, and manager Gianfranco Zola said: "I'm disappointed. I wasn't expecting that."

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