Premier League

Fergie plans Boro changes

Fergie aims to keep side fresh for Gunners clash

Ferguson: To ring the changes

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Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson admits he will make wholesale changes to his side to face Middlesbrough.

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"They can play Pat Rice at right-back and Arsene himself at centre-forward on Saturday "

Sir Alex Ferguson.

Quotes of the week

Ferguson is keen to keep his squad fresh for the second leg of their UEFA Champions League semi-final with Arsenal next Tuesday and he will rest a number of stars for the trip to Teesside.

Rio Ferdinand looks almost certain to miss the lunchtime kick-off against Boro on Saturday after picking up a rib injury against Arsenal and Ferguson revealed he could make as many as eight changes to his starting line-up for the trip to relegation-threatened Middlesbrough.

"I do not think it is right that we have a lunchtime kick-off at Middlesbrough," bemoaned Ferguson.

"Obviously I will bring some freshness into the team. The defence will be the same, apart from Rio but the midfield and forwards could change completely."

One man who could be involved at the Riverside is Wes Brown after he came through a couple of reserve-team outings following a foot injury.

Ferguson said: "Wes has been training with the first team and has played two reserve games.

"He was with the squad today and there is a definite possibility he could play some part of the game on Saturday.

"I actually think it is important. I don't think he will start but he will play some part."

Ferguson also feels the one big advantage Arsenal have is their lack of a pressing need for points at Portsmouth on Saturday, whereas his own team require victory to maintain their lead at the top of the Premier League.

"They can play Pat Rice at right-back and Arsene himself at centre-forward on Saturday!" said Ferguson.

"We have to play a team to win the game."

Praise

Meanwhile, Ferguson has hailed John O'Shea following his winning goal against Arsenal.

The Republic of Ireland international was the unlikely hero on Wednesday night and Ferguson has described the versatile performer as a 'great professional'.

"John O'Shea took the goal really well," added Ferguson.

"He is a great professional.

"The boy never complains. He is happy to play anywhere.

"He has not always been a No.1 choice but he produces 30 performances a season and it is a contribution we are grateful for.

"He has played in both full-back positions, central defence and in midfield. He is so versatile and offers such great value for us.

"He has played in most games this season. At the present moment in time, he would be in the team if we got to the final."