Ferguson urges young guns to step up to plate for Spurs clash
Alex Ferguson insists Manchester United's young guns must accept the responsibility of ensuring the team cope with the absence of the injured Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand.
United are set to face Tottenham at Old Trafford on Monday with goalkeeper De Gea (20), operating behind Phil Jones (19), Chris Smalling (21) and 23-year-old Jonny Evans.
Ferguson confirmed that captain Vidic is facing up to five weeks out with a calf injury while his defensive partner, Ferdinand, is unlikely to return from a hamstring injury until next weekend's clash with Arsenal.
The loss of Vidic and Ferdinand, combined with the retirement of goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar at the end of the last season, has left United with an unusually-inexperienced defensive line-up.
This reality isn't helped by De Gea's unconvincing performances following his pounds £18.3m arrival from Atletico Madrid.
But Ferguson claims that his young players have no choice but to get on with the job after insisting it is their "responsibility".
"The team on Monday will be a very young defensive line-up," Ferguson said. "But I don't see it as a challenge for the young players. It is a responsibility.
"It is an important position they are in. They have the ability and the temperament. I don't see it as a worry for me at all. I see it more as something I am looking forward to than worrying about.
"De Gea will learn by experience of the games he has had so far, while Jones, Smalling and Evans are very talented and determined characters and they have the defensive qualities.
"We should be OK. Top-level players with experience are vital. But we don't have them and we are confident in the players who are replacing them.
"The responsibility will lie with Jones, Evans, Smalling and De Gea on Monday night. They don't have the experience Ferdinand, Vidic and Van der Sar have, but they have the potential.
"Jones, who we were chasing for a long time, has got experience of playing for Blackburn last season and I thought he and Smalling were the stars of the England Under-21s this year.
"Smalling had a fantastic season last year and continued his progress this year, so I have absolutely no issues whatsoever."
The United manager is also without forward Javier Hernandez for the visit of Spurs.
"Hernandez's injury is a concussion and you have to be careful and give him the proper recovery time," Ferguson said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)