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Arsenal can lay down a marker

Arsenal
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Jones ruled out of Real clash

Phil Jones has been ruled out of Manchester United's Champions League clash with Real Madrid with the ankle injury he picked up in the FA Cup fifth-round 2-1 win over Reading.

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United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said there are several contenders to replace the England international, who impressed in midfield in the 1-1 draw in the first leg.

And he admits he faces a selection dilemma in the centre of defence, where he will pick two from Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans.

"Jones won't be fit," Ferguson said. "His performance over there was absolutely excellent. It is a miss but we can deem it as something we can't manage. We have got options. We hope we get that right."

Evans and Ferdinand were paired in Madrid but the Englishman missed Saturday's 4-0 win over Norwich with flu and Vidic, who was not even on the bench for the first leg, has drawn praise for his Premier League performances.

Ferguson added: "It is good to have that kind of problem. The three centre-backs are playing very well now. We will make a decision and hopefully we will be right."

Ferguson believes his defence will be crucial as United look to subdue Real. The Scot went to the Nou Camp last week to watch the Spanish champions record the first of back-to-back wins against Barcelona, a 3-1 win in the Copa del Rey last Tuesday.

He said: "That probably will be the key to the game. As we know, they are one of the best counter attacking teams in Europe and that showed last Tuesday in the Nou Camp. They were stunning on the counter attack. We have to find a way of coping with that but also having our own threat."

But the United manager is expecting goals. "I think both teams will score but we have to think we can score more," he added.

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