Fergie wary of Crawley challenge
© AFP

Sir Alex Ferguson is wary of the threat posed by non-league Crawley but is confident Manchester United will possess too much firepower for the minnows in the FA Cup tomorrow.

The English Premier League leaders entertain the tiny Sussex club in the fifth round in a David vs Goliath confrontation that has captured the imagination of the public.

Ferguson said United were determined to avoid a repeat of the results against non-league Exeter and Burton Albion in recent seasons, who both held the Premier League giants to 0-0 draws in the FA Cup.

"You talk about the FA Cup dying and it's not dying as long as you have got giant-killing acts like Crawley have produced," Ferguson said today. "Every manager will tell you, you don't want to be a casualty.

"We lost to Leeds [United] last year and it wasn't easy to take that. They deserved to win on the day. They were up for it and made it a cup tie. It will be the same tomorrow. Crawley will get stuck into us and there's no other way for them.

Crawley will get stuck into us and there's no other way for them.
Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United manager

"We have got good experience of playing sides like Crawley over the years, like Exeter and Burton Albion. It's a reminder shocks can happen and almost did against those two teams. But I think the quality we have tomorrow shouldn't give us the same worry."

Ferguson meanwhile allayed fears over the future of striker Michael Owen by saying he could be fit for Wednesday's UEFA Champions League trip to Marseille. A groin injury, suffered in training, will keep him out of the Crawley tie but not for the rest of the season as had been first feared.

"He picked up a small injury that will force him out of tomorrow. I was keen to play him," Ferguson said. "We could risk him, but there's no point to that, and he should be OK for Wednesday."

Owen's absence should not hamper United too much, particularly with the attacking strength in depth at the club and the return to training of Antonio Valencia, who broke his ankle in September.

After his spectacular overhead kick winner against Manchester City in last weekend's derby, Ferguson is hoping Wayne Rooney will go on a scoring run, while he also has Dimitar Berbatov, Bebe and Javier Hernandez available too.

"Up to last year Wayne used to go on these scoring bursts," added the United manager. "I would be happy with a burst now with so many important games coming up.

"Going back, he would go five or six games in a row, then go missing in terms of goals for a few games and then come back again. Last year he had a far more consistent and regular goal ratio."