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By ESPN Staff

Ferguson urges patience from United's fringe

Sir Alex Ferguson believes Manchester United's fringe players should look to Champions League winner Nicky Butt for encouragement as they attempt to force their way into his plans.

The United boss freely admits his £51million summer investment, which saw the champions strengthen their hand with the recruitment of Owen Hargreaves, Nani and Anderson, will increase competition for places.

But while that may leave the likes of Dong Fangzhuo, Fraizer Campbell, Lee Martin, Darron Gibson, Chris Eagles, Gerard Pique, Jonny Evans and Danny Simpson struggling to break through, Ferguson insists their patience will be rewarded.

To make his case, the Scot pointed to the Old Trafford careers of Butt, who played in the 1999 Champions League final because of skipper Roy Keane's suspension, and Phil Neville, both of whom claimed six Premier League titles and FA Cup winners' medals.

He told Inside United magazine: 'We have to have players here who understand the dynamics of the operation of the club.

'When we are going for everything, some of them will have to be patient.

'They are going to get chances and play games, and in those matches, they can be important players.

'It is a challenge for me and the staff to make sure we are being fair and picking the right team.

'It is also a challenge for the players to show loyalty to us, and if they don't think that we are being fair, then they have every right to come and see me. The door is always open.

'Look at players like Phil Neville and Nicky Butt - for three or four years, they were not regular starters, but they loved the club, they were patient and prepared to accept that they would not play every game.

'But they always got 20-odd games a season. You cannot do it forever, and you have to be fair to them and let them move on when they want to.

'I mean, Nicky and Phil can sit back and think: 'I have got eight or nine medals from my time there, which is a fantastic achievement'.

'Nicky played in the European Cup final, mainly because of the suspensions of Keane and Scholes.

'Phil played in the 1996 FA Cup final against Liverpool - (brother) Gary didn't make that one, he was on the subs' bench. Those are great rewards for being patient.'