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Fergie's dilemma

ALEX Ferguson admitted Manchester United's starting XI in their Carling Cup victory at Aldershot had put their hands up to replace the club's derby flops in Saturday's Premier League trip to Everton.

Ferguson watched a United second string breeze into the League Cup quarter-finals last night thanks to a 3-0 victory at the EBB Stadium, as the club avoided further humiliation.

The club's first XI were thrashed 6-1 at home by Manchester City on Sunday and changes are likely at Goodison Park this weekend.

Dimitar Berbatov, Michael Owen and Antonio Valencia all scored last night, while Tom Cleverley made his comeback from injury and Nemanja Vidic and Phil Jones also returned to the starting line-up.


Ferguson said: "They'll always give me nudges. It's difficult picking a team when you've got so many good players.

"We have a fantastic squad. That's why I had to play these players. They need the games. They've not had many first-team games to be honest with you because the consistency of the team has been very good -- we've not needed to make any changes.

"But there's Michael Owen -- every time he plays, he scores. It's a fantastic record he's got. He's a fantastic professional.

"Dimitar Berbatov had a fantastic game and scored a tremendous goal from great football.

"So they've all done well; Valencia, Thomas Cleverley back is a good thing for us because the boy's an outstanding footballer.

"Vida's got another 90 behind him. I think he needed it.

"Until he got his breathing going, he was feeling it."

Ferguson hailed his players for showing the "discipline" absent during their derby drubbing.

"Obviously, we had a difficult day on Sunday simply because we tried to play the history book," he added.

"The nature of Manchester United is to go and win the game, whether it's eight men, nine men, 10 men or seven men.

"That's their nature and it's very difficult to change that."

Aldershot boss Dean Holdsworth, who shared the traditional glass of wine with Ferguson after last night's match, was delighted with his side's attempt to bridge the gulf between League Two also-rans and the Premier League champions.

"I'm very proud," Holdsworth said. "We can learn a lot from the game. The fans were magnificent and the team will be hungry for more occasions like this.

"It's been fantastic. What a team Alex put out in front of us.

"United had bundles of quality but we'll learn from that.

"We were beaten by a set of world-class players and it was a joy to face them.

"We'll be pleased when we wake up.

"Alex was full of compliments saying, 'You should be proud of your boys', and we'll take comfort from that."