Sir Alex Ferguson has blamed Manchester United's injury crisis on the failure to impose a winter break in England. Ferguson is without almost an entire team of established players for Saturday's FA Cup tie with Tottenham and is struggling to name a recognised line up for the match at Old Trafford.
Jonny Evans, Nani, Rafael and Anderson have joined a spiralling injury list which already includes Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra, Wayne Rooney and Park Ji-Sung. Wes Brown and Owen Hargreaves are long-term absentees while Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville will undergo late fitness tests ahead of the match.
With Tottenham also set to field a weakened team partly due to injuries, Ferguson believes a winter break would be welcomed by most of his fellow managers in the Premier League. Most of Europe already has a mid-season break and the long-serving United manager thinks it is time for the English game to fall into line.
"I'm going to bring in some young players to face Tottenham because I've got eight players definitely out," said Ferguson. "It's not the best situation because we have also got a game next Tuesday at West Brom.
"This type of thing is the very reason why managers for years and years have pursued and hoped that they are going to have a winter break. "That's the very reason why you would love to have a winter break, to get rid of all the strains that the players carry through December and January.
"But it is not to be so the strains become injuries and then players start missing games - that is the position we are in. "Hopefully I can field a strong enough team. I've got enough midfield players in terms of Michael Carrick, Darren Fletcher, Paul Scholes and Darron Gibson."
Anderson is expected to be out for three weeks with ligament damage while Nani has a groin problem which will force him to miss the next two games. United have won the FA Cup a record 11 times with Ferguson masterminding five of those triumphs since taking charge at Old Trafford in 1986.
They defeated Tottenham 3-1 at the same stage of last season's competition but were eventually eliminated by Portsmouth, managed by Redknapp at the time, who went on to win the cup. Saturday's game is the first of two matches between the two clubs in the space of five weeks with Manchester United and Tottenham booking their place in the final of the League Cup earlier this week.
Redknapp revealed after his side had defeated Burnley 6-4 on aggregate in the semi-final that he is planning to field a weak side against United. His Tottenham team is locked in a desperate battle against relegation and Redknapp, who has his own injury problems, is unwilling to risk his best players with a crucial league game against Stoke at White Hart Lane next Tuesday.
Ferguson said he understood Redknapp's predicament. "Harry has picked up injuries again and I think he was reflecting concerns for next Tuesday's game more than anything because they have got a massive game against Stoke," the Scot said. "You have to protect the interests of your club.
"I don't think it is a reflection on the FA Cup at all. He has got some genuine injury concerns. But I think the concern is Tuesday night against Stoke. "At the moment Tottenham are down near the bottom of the table with three or four others on 21 points.
"It's not an easy situation and Harry has been picking up one or two injuries. "Tottenham have got five tough games coming up including some six-pointers, so it's a concern for him really."