Carrick return boosts weakened United

Manchester United will be without several key players for the Champions League Group C game against Valencia on Wednesday, as their trip to face the Spanish league leaders takes on an increasingly daunting look.

Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville have all been left out of the squad by Sir Alex Ferguson. None of the quartet made United’s travelling party for the trip to Spain.

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The Red Devils are, however, boosted by the availability of Michael Carrick, who returns to the squad after a month’s absence.

New boy Bebe also made the journey and is in contention for a first Champions League appearance. Rio Ferdinand has travelled and could be fit for the clash against the La Liga leaders.

That Rooney was not part of the travelling contingent at Manchester airport for the trip to Spain came as no surprise, after the United striker suffered an ankle injury and was substituted in the 2-2 draw against Bolton at the weekend.

Giggs went off with a hamstring injury in that game and is expected to be out for around two weeks.

Scholes - who is out for 10 days with a calf problem - has played a key role for United so far this season, appearing in every league game and winning plaudits for a series of fine performances.

After drawing 0-0 with Glasgow Rangers in their opening group game the Red Devils will be looking for a positive result against Valencia.

But with a number of key players missing and Valencia flying high – top of the league and unbeaten after four wins and a draw from five games – it promises to be a difficult game for the three-time European champions.

By Jonathan Fadugba

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