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Berbatov put on Red alert

DIMITAR Berbatov may get a chance to make a rare impact in the Champions League for Manchester United against Basel tonight.

The Bulgarian has not scored in the competition for three years but injuries to Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez should see last season's joint top scorer in the Premier League given an opportunity to impress in Europe.

United boss Alex Ferguson's faith in his record signing has been called into question in the past but he insisted Berbatov can still make a significant contribution to the Champions League.

He said: "Of course he's got a part to play. He's one of our squad members and they've all got a part to play.

"There are a lot of games in the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and Carling Cup.

"It's an exhausting season unless you use your squad."

The record books may show the current spell to be United's most successful ever in Europe, but Ferguson insists they cannot look back at the last four years as a golden period for the club -- because they were beaten by Barcelona in two of the three finals they reached.

Ferguson added: "The Champions League is the best competition in the world now, better than the World Cup, better than the European Champion-ships, it's a fantastic tournament.

"But it's not a golden period for us because we have lost two finals, so I don't think it can be called a golden period.


"We have been consistent in the Champions League, our form away from home has been outstanding and we hope we can do better this year and win it, that's the aim of this club all the time."

Ferguson confirmed that Rooney would miss tonight's match with a hamstring injury and said that it was difficult to know when the England striker would be back in action.

"He's not playing tomorrow. It's difficult to assess with hamstrings but we hope we have him back quickly. He did a bit of jogging this morning but that's all," said the United boss.

Ferguson also said that Hernandez's dead leg would keep him out against Basle but that the Mexican should be back for when Norwich visit on Saturday.

Nemanja Vidic is also missing for United -- Ferguson hopes he will have recovered from his calf injury by the time the international break is over -- while Jonny Evans (ankle) and Chris Smalling (groin) are also missing.

Antonio Valencia is likely to again be pressed into service as an emergency right-back with Rafael's injury set to keep him out for the long term.

Basel striker Alexander Frei believes his side will need "a small miracle" to beat United.

The Swiss side have never won in seven visits to England in all competitions and they have lost their last four.

"The whole team is glad to be here and I'm hoping for a small miracle," said the Switzerland international and former Borussia Dortmund forward.

"We are outsiders and we are not expecting to make the impossible possible but why can't we do something here?"

Basel coach Thorsten Fink knows better than most just how devastating United can be and has told his side to keep their wits about them until the end of the game. The former Bayern Munich midfielder came on as an 80th-minute substitute in the 1999 Champions League final when his team were leading 1-0 before United scored two stoppage-time goals to snatch the trophy from the German side's grasp.

"If you are not careful playing a team like Manchester United you end up paying," Fink said.

"It's not a question of getting equal ... it was a great memory although it was defeat. I think you gain strength from defeat, they say that everything that hurts helps you improve."