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United stars arrive for Aviva clash

THOUSANDS of football fans are set to descend on the Aviva Stadium this evening to see Wayne Rooney play alongside his Manchester United teammates.

Red Devils supporters will be out in force for the clash against an Airtricity League XI, with an attendance of more than 40,000 expected at Lansdowne Road.

It will be the first soccer match to be held in the stadium.

The Manchester United stars flew into Dublin today ahead of the encounter.

And United boss Alex Ferguson said it was 'an honour' to be the first soccer team to play the new stadium.

"We have a massive fan base in Ireland. It will be great to play a match on their home turf and I know the Irish supporters will make the atmosphere very special," he said.

While Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra, Ryan Giggs, Owen Hargreaves and Paul Scholes are absent for various reasons, the legendary team will still field a galaxy of stars.

Four World Cup players -- Rooney, Michael Carrick, Ji-sung Park and Nemanja Vidic -- will be in the squad, as well as Antonio Valencia on his way back from an ankle injury.

All five missed the Red Devils' tour of North America and the subsequent friendly in Mexico, but they will be the honoured guests at tonight's gala event.

Ferguson said that his two Republic of Ireland internationals, Darron Gibson and John O'Shea, will play, with Waterford man O'Shea captaining the team.

The Airtricity League XI will be managed by former Shelbourne, Shamrock Rovers and Cork City manager, Damien Richardson.

Tonight's game , which kicks off at 7.45pm, will be followed by a friendly between the Republic of Ireland and Argentina next week.