United's youngsters to have another shot
© AFP

Sir Alex Ferguson expects to learn a great deal about his current youngsters when Manchester United face Derby in their English League Cup semi-final second leg at Old Trafford.

United lost the first leg 1-0 at the Championship strugglers a fortnight ago, but Ferguson is set to stick with his second string for Tuesday's match. Nigel Clough will be taking charge of Derby for only his second game since joining from non-league Burton Albion and the Rams are expected to bring 12,000 fans to Old Trafford.

Ferguson plans to hand a debut to Serbian winger Zoran Tosic, who joined from Red Star Belgrade earlier this month. But he is also set to give the likes of Danny Welbeck, Darron Gibson as well as Rodrigo Possebon and Rafael the chance to erase Derby's advantage.

And as if United's young guns needed any more incentive, Ferguson has said they will play in the final at Wembley if they can get past Derby County.

I won't risk the league campaign for the League Cup and I think the young players will do well (on Tuesday).
said Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

"All the young players will play," said Ferguson whose English, European and world champions currently top the Premier League table by a point from Liverpool ahead of Monday's Merseyside derby. "I won't risk the league campaign for the League Cup and I think the young players will do well (on Tuesday)," the Scot added.

"In an exciting atmosphere like that you find out a lot about your young players," Ferguson explained. "Welbeck, Gibson, Rafael, the young boy Tosic, are going to be involved.

"His (Tosic's) work permit should be through and he might even start but I will make my bench very strong. The ones who have been involved will be involved in the final hopefully if we get there. They deserve their chance."

Pondering Clough's possible formation, Ferguson said: "It will be interesting to see what he does with his team but he has the incentive of a fresh face, fresh ideas and 12,000 supporters. I think it'll be a fantastic game and I'm looking forward to it."

Clough, whose late father Brian was Derby's manager when they won the English title for the first time in 1972, started his reign at Pride Park with a 2-0 loss at home to QPR. And with his new team two points above the relegation zone, he insists that survival in the second-tier Championship is all important.

But he maintains that Derby will not be heading to Old Trafford with a defensive mind-set. "The Cup games are a nice distraction but the league is a priority and it will remain so," Clough said.

"We've got to show some character from within. They've done that at times and I'm sure it's there. In normal circumstances, I think we'd be extremely excited about these games and we probably will be when the time comes.

"It will be difficult to get over the defeat by QPR but we've got to start concentrating on Old Trafford. We can't sit back because I think that would be fatal. We do have a goal to protect but when we do get a chance to get forward then we're going to take it. We'll pick them (the players) up and hopefully we can hang on to the lead."