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Ferguson dismisses Lampard speculation

"You are not going to tell me Chelsea would sell Frank Lampard to Manchester United in January. Do you really believe that?," Ferguson told a news conference on Friday. "There is no foundation to that."

"Chelsea are like us. They want to do something. The second half of the season is important to us.

"What can you get in January? The players we'd like we can't get. If the alternative is to sign a second-rate player, we don't want to do that."

United, who have lost their last two Premier League games, face a daunting FA Cup Third Round tie away to local rivals Manchester City on Sunday.

City head United by three points at the top of the Premier League table. They beat United 6-1 at Old Trafford in October as well as defeating them in last season's FA Cup semi-final.

Ferguson told Inside United the club's fans had to accept that City would now be challenging for the top honours.

"They are not going to go away," Ferguson said. "We played them in a semi-final last year and the year before, we're both in the Europa League this year and now we are facing them in the FA Cup.

"So we have to get used to the fact that City are going to be challenging for competitions along with us.

"There's every chance we're going to meet at some point, maybe not every year but on average it's going to be pretty regular. It's a hard FA Cup draw for us but it will be hard for them too."

City manager Roberto Mancini has expressed his concern at the club's championship bid could be hampered by injuries and the loss of Yaya and Kolo Toure to Ivory Coast for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Mancini's problems have been compounded by Gareth Barry's suspension and injuries to Mario Balotelli, Owen Hargreaves and Samir Nasri.

"If we don't have the players it's tough for us," Mancini told reporters. "We are not United, we don't have 19 championships.

"United and Chelsea have won trophies for many years so they are quiet. They understand that they can play without pressure. For us it's different.

"This could be the first championship for many years and we need to do everything we can to win."

Mancini said City might be able to buy reinforcements this month if the club is able to sell unwanted players, including Carlos Tevez.

"It is better that we sell first," he said. "Maybe we can then take in other players."