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Berbatov sick, Rooney injured ahead of Gamba football match

17 December 2008 09:25

YOKOHAMA, Japan (AFP) - Dimitar Berbatov is sick and will not play in Manchester United's Club World Cup match against Gamba Osaka on Thursday, while Wayne Rooney is a doubt after picking up an injury in training.

Coach Sir Alex Ferguson said record-signing Berbatov picked up a virus on the plane journey from London and has been in bed since they arrived on Monday, providing more ammunition for critics who think the trip is a waste of time.

"Berbatov won't play on Thursday. He has been ill since we arrived after picking up a virus. He is not well at the moment," he said.

"Rooney was injured in training on Tuesday but we hope he will be fit. Other than that everyone else is fit."

While Berbatov will be missing, Ferguson said the veteran trio of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville would all play, as will Cristiano Ronaldo.

"Giggs, Neville and Scholes will all play. They have played a lot of big games and their experience will be vital," he said.

Ferguson lamented that having such a strong squad here -- 23 players, almost all of whom are internationals -- created headaches, as it was difficult for him to leave 12 on the sidelines.

He said he had never had such depth in a squad. "It is our best squad in my time at Manchester United," he said.

"We have 23 players here and only one lacks experience, and that's goalkeeper Ben Amos (who replaced the injured third choice goalkeeper Ben Foster).

"The rest are high quality and mostly international players. It is difficult because I have to manage those players.

"To put an international in the stands can be regarded as an insult and for me it is embarrassing to ask a top player not to play."

Ferguson has defended the trek to Japan for the tournament of continental champions in the middle of the Premier League season, and again hit out at the critics.

"The criticism is unfortunate," he said. "The most important thing for us is that we can win something in December and that will be a great mid-season boost."

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