Last updated : 26 January 2003 By Editor
Fergie hopes that his decision to send five players under the knife this season will now pay off. Roy Keane (hip), Paul Scholes (knee), Wes Brown (ankle), Rio Ferdinand (knee) and Nicky Butt (ankle) have all missed a lot of action but with United still going in four competitions it appears Sir Alex made the right decision.

He said: "We feel justified in what we did. When players are carrying injuries which eventually need operations you may as well get them done at the time.
"Hopefully when they come back you are in a good enough position to use their freshness. That's what we are seeing at the moment.

"The great news for us is that Nicky Butt has come back. He's now had couple of games in the reserves and had 15 minutes the other night at Blackburn.
"We are delighted to have him back along with the other players who have needed surgery or been injured. They have all missed chunks of the season.

"You get the operations done, bite the bullet and hopefully when they come back it makes a difference."

"Rio Ferdinand also had time off after knee surgery. Wes Brown had nearly fourth months out after breaking his ankle in Hungary in the first game of the season. Gary Neville missed the early part of the season because of his broken foot. And David Beckham had a month out with his broken rib.

"They are looking as fresh as daisies now and they look as though they can handle it.

"Our experience of handling the final part of the season will always be important because we have the benefit of knowing what to do. We know how to handle these situations and tailor training to maintain a good level of fitness."

However there are doubts today over the fitness of Wes Brown and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Although both are expected to be fit.

Today's squad: Barthez, G Neville, Ferdinand, Brown, Silvestre, Beckham, Veron, Keane, Giggs, Scholes, van Nistelrooy, Solskjaer, Butt, P Neville, Forlan, O'Shea, Carroll.