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Nov 1, 2010

Carrick insists Bursaspor trip won't be easy

Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick insists there are still no easy games in Europe despite an increase in the amount of less prestigious clubs that feature in the Champions League.

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United travel to Group C bottom-feeders Bursaspor on Tuesday night and Carrick expects a tough match despite the fact the Turkish hosts are yet to win a point, three matches into their Champions League bow.

New rules introduced by UEFA at the start of last season allowed clubs from a greater number of countries to play in the Champions League but Carrick rejects claims this has reduced the overall quality.

"The Champions League is not easier than it used to be," Carrick said. "In terms of the stature and history of the clubs, it might not be as good, but the games are still tough, especially away from home.

"People might point to our away record, which is very good, but all those matches have been hard. Travelling to Turkey, for instance, presents you with a long journey and a different type of atmosphere. You are encountering players that you don't see every week.

"It brings a different challenge to Barcelona, Inter Milan and Real Madrid. It is something you have to face if you want to continue in the competition."

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson certainly has no intention of excusing anyone the arduous eight-hour round-trip which will end around 4.15am on Wednesday morning - hardly the ideal preparation for a weekend encounter with Wolves.

As both Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen have already been ruled out, Ferguson's striking resources are stretched, although it was in their last away outing - in Valencia - that Javier Hernandez proved his worth with a late winner.

It was man of the moment Nani who scored the only goal when United met Bursaspor in a largely drab game a fortnight ago, played out in the midst of the Rooney contract saga.

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