Is Sir Alex Ferguson trying to lull the Manchester City team with a false sense of security with tales he is struggling to field a strong Manchester United team for Wednesday’s derby game due to illness and injuries?
You might not put it past the wily old campaigner, but United are definately weakened and must test the strength of their squad when they do battle for the city’s bragging rights.
Ryan Giggs and Owen Hargreaves will be disappointed not to feature, but Giggs’ hamstring is not recovered sufficiently and Hargreaves’ re-appearance against Wolves lasted all of ten minutes before he was forced off with a hamstring problem.
Wayne Rooney has remained in America to complete his return to fitness while Michael Owen and Antonio Valencia are definitely out with serious injuries.
Anderson, Michael Carrick, Dimitar Berbatov, Darrron Gibson, Nemanja Vivic and Patrice Evra have all been reported to be suffering from symptoms of the virus that has affected the club and late fitness decisions can be expected for most those players.
Nani’s groin injury was expected to keep him out of the derby clash but he could be rushed back sooner than ideally hoped.
The spotlight will fall, once again, on Carlos Tevez who has caused so much controversy in Manchester with his move from United to City before the start of last season.
He will have appreciated the warm-up against West Brom after returning from a thigh injury and will be fired up to add to the three goals he has scored against his former club since the move; online bookmaker Unibet is offering 5/1 for Tevez to score first.
His fellow striker Emmanuel Adebayor is a doubt with a calf strain and Mario Balotelli takes no part due to suspension, so David Silva could provide support just behind Tevez.
Otherwise, City boss Roberto Mancini has no other injury concerns and Aleksandar Kolarov will be pushing for a place having recovered from an ankle injury.
Possible starting lineups:
MAN CITY: Hart, Zabaleta, K Toure, Kompany, Boateng, De Jong, Y Toure, Barry, Milner, Silva, Tevez.
MAN UTD: Van der Sar, Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Fletcher, O’Shea, Scholes, Park, Nani, Hernandez.