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Jul 5, 2013

A-league stars out of Man United clash

The Foxtel A-League All-stars squad set to face Manchester United has been hit with three major withdrawals ahead of the glamour clash on July 20.

• Brooks: A-League's marquee dream

World Cup winner Alessandro Del Piero, former Japan international Shinji Ono and English import Emile Heskey have all pulled out of the match, depriving the A-League All-Stars of arguably their best, and most recognisable players.

The three players, all marquee signings for their clubs, lit up the league last season, Ono winning the Premiership with Western Sydney Wanderers, while Del Piero and Heskey led their clubs - Sydney FC and Newcastle Jets respectively - in the scoring charts.

"The fans and their votes are what have brought the Foxtel A-League All Stars into existence and we have placed fan engagement at the heart of the All Stars project," said Football Federation Australia CEO David Gallop in a statement.

"Alessandro, Shinji and Emile have turned on great performances and brought a huge global and national profile to the Hyundai A-League, so naturally the fans wanted to see them face Manchester United.

"But we respect the fact that their personal circumstances at this time mean the All Stars game arrives at a difficult period for them to manage a one-off appearance."

The A-League off-season has already taken its toll on a side expected to represent the best of Australian football, with injuries, retirements and transfers shrinking the pool from which All-Star coach Ange Postecoglou can make his selections.

But Gallop was confident that no matter who would take the field against United, the A-League All-Stars would take the game to the Premier League champions.

"We've already seen the transfer of Marco Rojas, Patrick Zwaanswijk's retirement and the injury rehab of Adama Traore affect the selection process," said Gallop.

"These things happen in football, but I know Ange (Postecoglou) is confident of having a very competitive team that will proudly represent the Hyundai A-League against the Red Devils."

United's pre-season tour will take in Thailand, Australia, Japan and China before returning to Europe where the Red Devils will travel to Stockholm, Sweden to play at the recently opened Friends Arena on August 6.

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