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By ESPN Staff

Fergie could look to loan out young stars

Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted Manchester United's shock Carling Cup exit to Coventry will mean more players being loaned out of Old Trafford.

Unlike previous years, Ferguson retained most of his young stars this season in an effort to avoid the problems he encountered last term when he ran out of bodies in the quest for honours.

But part of his thinking was based on a decent Carling Cup run offering the fringe men in his first-team squad some valuable experience and minutes on the pitch at a competitive level.

Malta forward Michael Mifsud derailed those hopes with his double strike for the Sky Blues as Coventry sent United spinning to their first defeat on home soil against lower league opposition since the humiliating three-goal loss to York City 12 years ago.

So, the likes of Phil Bardsley, Jonny Evans, Chris Eagles and Dong Fangzhou could find themselves playing their football elsewhere for a little while as Ferguson begins to plot another way forward.

'There is no point trying to find excuses for Wednesday night,' said Ferguson. 'It was a shock, which both surprised and disappointed me. The basic principle of any cup tie is to fight. And Coventry fought harder than we did.

'There is some cause for mitigation in the sense most of the players involved had not had enough football and it was also the first time they had played together as a team.

'But maybe we have to review the situation now with regard to one or two of them going on loan.'

Ferguson excused only Gerard Pique and Anderson, who has been heavily criticised in some quarters, from the debacle.

He also identified full-back Danny Simpson as someone he needs around Old Trafford, while Nani, John O'Shea and Tomasz Kuszczak are presumably safe from the anticipated cull.

'We looked upon the League Cup as an avenue for these players to play,' reflected Ferguson. 'Now it has gone and with Gary Neville and Owen Hargreaves coming back we will have a good strong squad, so some of them need to go.'

Ferguson has long since written off reserve team football as a suitable place for young players to gain experience, hence his extensive use of the loan system.

However, while Evans certainly has a long-term United future, Bardsley for one, and possibly Eagles as well, may find their careers are heading in another direction altogether.

Ferguson was quick to defend Anderson though.

A £17million summer signing from FC Porto, the young Brazilian has struggled to adapt to the frenetic pace of the Premier League.

However, the United boss saw enough in Wednesday's game to be encouraged about his prospects.

'Anderson is coming on fine,' he said. 'That boy is a good player and I was pleased with him. He showed a bit of resolve on Wednesday when he and Pique were our best players.'