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Seconds out, round two for Chelsea and United

ALEX Ferguson has wished referee Lee Mason a sarcastic 'best of luck' as he prepares for another chapter in the increasingly bitter rivalry between Manchester United and Chelsea.

Mason steps into Mark Clattenberg's shoes for tonight's Capitol Cup tie at Stamford Bridge and must be bracing himself for fireworks after Sunday's controversial Premier League tussle at Stamford Bridge.

"You don't want to lose down there and we want to continue in the cup," claimed Ferguson, cranking up the pressure. "Any game down there is going to be tough.

"There has been good progress there since Roberto Di Matteo took the job. They are big games - and big games are good for us."

Ferguson and Roberto di Matteo have stripped down to reserve team regulars but that is unlikely to dilute the intensity and could spell good news for Ireland hopeful Robbie Brady, who made his senior competitive debut against Newcastle in the last round.

Di Matteo is hamstrung by the fact that no fewer than three of his key men - John Terry, Fernando Torries and Branislav Ivanisovic - are under a disciplinary cloud.

But he will use the opportunity to give his fringe men game time and is likely to leave John Obi Mikel, Juan Mata, Oscar and Eden Hazard on the bench to make way for Oriol Romeu, Victor Moses, Marko Marin and Lucas Piazon.

Ferguson had hoped that Chris Smalling and Phil Jones might be able to play some part tonight, but while both men are close to playing again after prolonged injury rehab, neither are fit enough for this game.

"The squad that played against Newcastle in the last round will be in place again," said Ferguson, opening up the possibility that Brady might get a run.


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