Sir Alex Ferguson insists he will not allow any Manchester United players to leave the club on loan, as they continue to fight on four fronts heading into the new year. The likes of Danny Welbeck, Manucho and Rodrigo Possebon would all have plenty of suitors if Ferguson was to allow them to leave Old Trafford on a temporary basis.
But, having squeezed into the League Cup semi-finals on Wedneday with a 5-3 win over Blackburn, as well as being two Premier League matches behind their rivals when they return from the FIFA Club World Cup later this month, Ferguson is determined to keep his squad together.
The draw for the League Cup last four, where United could face Tottenham, Derby or Burnley, will take place on Saturday. And Ferguson feels he has enough on his plate to reject any requests to take his fringe players out on loan.
He said: "Now we're in the semi-final that's two extra games of course, and getting fixtures and getting dates for those games is going to be difficult because we've got to find dates for Fulham and for Wigan, and it's not going to be easy. The one good thing is that we've got a big strong squad, I won't be letting anyone else out on loan and I want to keep everyone together because I'm going to need them.
"It's all about taking their chance when it comes, and they have done that and I'm pleased with that, but more importantly it adds to my squad when we're coming in the second half of the season. We've got something like eight games in 26 days and I've got the squad to cope with that. It's a great bonus we've got now."
The step up
Ferguson feels that his youngsters have shown that they are capable of making the step up to first-team action throughout their League Cup run. He added: "Playing against Middlesbrough, QPR and against Blackburn, we learnt something from them, their temperament, their ability to play in front of the crowd at Old Trafford. They're never over-awed, that's the important thing. These young players have come through well."
Another bonus for Ferguson was that Paul Scholes came through 25 minutes after three months out with a knee injury, and the Scot was delighted to see the former England man prove his fitness.
Although there was some doubt about whether Carlos Tevez or Blackburn's Aaron Mokoena scored the first in United's 5-3 victory, the Argentinian was delighted with his four-goal haul - the first time he has scored a hat-trick in English football. Tevez said: "I'm very pleased to score four goals, because it's the first time I've done it in my career. I'm pleased because I don't play much, and it shows we can play in Premier League, the Champions League and any competition."
Nani scored United's second before Benni McCarthy pulled one back for Rovers just after half time at Old Trafford. Tevez restored the lead from the penalty spot and added a fourth only for Matt Derbyshire and McCarthy to pull goals back before the Argentina front-man scored United's fifth.
Blackburn, who lost 3-2 at Portsmouth at the weekend, are rooted in the drop zone ahead of Saturday's clash with Liverpool, and their manager Paul Ince said: "We keep doing it to ourselves. We did it at Portsmouth and then we did it again against Manchester United. We've shown we can score goals, we've just got to keep them out."