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Phelan: Utd may struggle to sign stars

Manchester United went through a morning training session before heading to Greece to meet Olympiacos in the first leg of their Champions League.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s former assistant Mike Phelan has warned that Manchester United are likely to miss out on their top transfer targets if they fail to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

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United face Olympiakos on Tuesday in the first leg of their last-16 tie but are only sixth in the Premier League, 11 points behind fourth-placed Liverpool, and may need to win the Champions League if they are to participate in the 2014-15 competition.

Former United player Phelan spent 14 years on Ferguson’s coaching staff, including the last five as assistant manager, before leaving Old Trafford last summer, and he believes the pull of the Champions League could deter players from moving to Manchester.

Phelan told talkSPORT: “Playing the Champions League is always an issue. You are always going to be in competition with other football clubs for big players, whether you're in Europe or not.”

Phelan feels they may have to turn to B-list players if, for the first time in 19 years, they are not in the Champions League but he thinks their financial muscle will help them.

He said: “It might turn into a situation where David Moyes has two shopping lists -- he'll have one for being in Europe and one for not.

“The attraction to play for Manchester United will still be there, though. They're making the sign that they'll plough money into the market this summer and pay big salaries, so it's an interesting time.”

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