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By ESPN Staff

Ferguson targets midfielder to bolster United

Sir Alex Ferguson will step up his battle to bring in a midfield reinforcement to try and stop Manchester United's season from disintegrating under a weight of injury and suspension.

Ferguson was without four key men for last night's Carling Cup semi-final triumph over Blackburn in an area of the field where he was already short on numbers following the departure of skipper Roy Keane.

If that was not bad enough, Ryan Giggs lasted just 12 minutes of the 2-1 win before limping off with a hamstring injury, then the Welshman's replacement Alan Smith picked up a booking that will rule him out of next Wednesday's Barclays Premiership rematch with Rovers at Ewood Park.

Although Cristiano Ronaldo will be available for Sunday's FA Cup trip to Wolves after his own three-match ban and Park Ji-sung was due to return to training this morning after a recent knee injury, Ferguson knows it would be a major risk to let the transfer window close next week without making another signing.

So, although chief executive David Gill insisted United's cheque book was now closed until the summer, Ferguson will prise it open again and hope he can beat the deadline, even if it is only a loan move.

'We know it is going to be difficult but ideally, we would like to bring someone in and we are trying our best,' said Ferguson.

'The problem is we have to be sure. There is no point just bringing someone in for the sake of it. We have to get someone who can add to the squad because it is squad number we are light on in midfield.

'But we are exhausting our knowledge of central midfielders in Europe, particularly one we can get on loan.

'It is impossible really because there is only a week left which is not a lot of time to start negotiating fees and things but we could just run out of time.'

United have already been linked with out-of-favour AC Milan man Johann Vogel but the desperation with which he needs to move will not be known until the extent of Giggs' latest injury is revealed.

The Welshman has been plagued by hamstring problems throughout his career and last night's game had barely started before the injury resurfaced.

'He felt the injury and tried to solider on for a few minutes but it was no use,' said Ferguson.

'We wanted Ryan to be our leader in midfield because we only had two young lads alongside him in Darren Fletcher and Kieran Richardson,' he said.

'But the injury put paid to that, which is unfortunate.'