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Door open for Gibson

Alex Ferguson will spread a little happiness around his fringe players for Manchester United's Carling Cup final clash with Aston Villa at Wembley -- and that's the best news Darron Gibson has had for some time.

Like many Irish players who have struggled for form and opportunity in the wake of their Paris World Cup disappointment, Gibson's star stopped rising at Old Trafford shortly after defeat by France and he has been forced to rebuild his profile in the United first team.

But Ferguson, troubled by injury victims Anderson, Nani and most significant of all, Rio Ferdinand, will hand Gibson another chance to make a name for himself alongside some other youngsters.

"I am thinking about the younger ones to give them that smell of success. There are two or three that come into that category, like Gibson, Evans and Rafael," said Ferguson.

"They have to be considered. But it would be nice to win the cup having got to Wembley and through those semi-final ties against Manchester City. You want to get to the final and do well."

While Fergie mulls over his final line-up, Villa boss Martin O'Neill is just delighted to be in a Wembley final with the possibility of rare silverware on offer and will put his best side out.

"Winning a trophy is the ultimate. There's no getting away from that. It would be fantastic to do so. We are going to try and win the game - that would be lovely," said O'Neill.

Irish boss Giovanni Trapattoni will have to wait until Sunday evening before finalising his plans for the friendly international against Brazil at the Emirates on Tuesday.

With Richard Dunne and Gibson involved in the Carling Cup final, Robbie Keane in Old Firm action in Glasgow for the first time and Keith Andrews likely to line out for Blackburn against Liverpool at Anfield in Premier League action, Trap will have a nervous wait for injury news before finalising his squad.