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Fergie wants to give Ferdinand a rest

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has said he hopes his players seal Champions League qualification on Wednesday so he can give Rio Ferdinand a rest.

United have been hit by a succession of defensive injuries - Nemanja Vidic, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have all been sidelined - meaning Ferguson has been unable to rest Ferdinand as much as he would want to.

But if they beat Braga in Portugal to seal their place in the knockout stages, Ferdinand - who turns 34 this week - can be used more sparingly with both Smalling and Jones back in contention.

"The game in Braga will give me a chance to utilise my squad, and I'll be making some changes," he was quoted as saying by the Sun.

"If we can get the win it's better, but we want to make sure we qualify first. If we do, it gives me options to utilise Smalling and Jones, then we can make sure that Ferdinand is fresh for all these games.

"I won't have to worry about playing him Saturday, Wednesday, Saturday, Wednesday. That's an important issue.

"I don't expect Vidic to be back until Christmas, so it adds back-up in that respect."

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