Paul Scholes has been left out of Manchester United’s travelling squad for their Champions League encounter with Real Madrid.
Scholes has been sidelined by a knee injury since the FA Cup win over Fulham on January 26 but did train at the club’s Carrington training ground on Tuesday morning.
However, when United left for Spain for their last-16 first-leg clash, Scholes was not part of Sir Alex Ferguson’s 22-man squad.
Although Scholes was unlikely to start anyway, his absence does rob United of some valuable experience for their meeting with the nine-time trophy winners.
The positive news was that Ashley Young made the journey after recovering from his knee injury.
In addition, Jonny Evans and Phil Jones have overcome the niggles that forced them to be substituted during Sunday’s win over Everton.By opting to remain in Manchester for their final training session, as they have done all season, Ferguson was aiming to keep his plans for the game secret.
It has been predicted Jones will be handed a midfield holding role, after successfully shackling Gareth Bale and Marouane Fellaini in recent weeks.
Ferguson has plenty of alternatives though, which include Tom Cleverley and Anderson, even though Michael Carrick is amongst those virtually certain to start.
Real were hardly any more forthcoming, opting to do their stretching session on the furthest pitch away from the cameras and not doing any meaningful work until after the media had left.
Former Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso is expected to be fit and did train this morning despite doubts being expressed in the Spanish media about his participation.
Local reports also suggest up to 5,000 United fans will fly in for the game, a significant number of them without tickets.
And, whilst many observers believe Real are slight favourites, it appears the Spanish media are concerned as daily newspaper Marca has depicted Wayne Rooney as ‘a freckled demon’ who is ‘built like a barrel packed with gunpowder’ and on his way to ‘blow up the Bernabeu’.
Not that Rooney has any great memories of the stadium, where he had to be hauled off for his own good by Sven Goran Eriksson in 2004 as he risked a first-half red card in a friendly against Spain which was marred by racist taunts at some of the visiting players.
“I’ve played at the Bernabeu once before for England against Spain, but it wasn’t a good experience to be honest,” Rooney said on his Facebook page.
“I got subbed just before half-time, and didn’t really get many touches because Spain kept the ball really well.
“Hopefully this time it will go a lot better.”
Man United (from): Lindegaard, De Gea, Amos, Rafael, Smalling, Evans, Vidic, Ferdinand, Jones, Buttner, Evra, Cleverley, Giggs, Anderson, Carrick, Kagawa, Young, Nani, Valencia, Hernandez, Rooney, Welbeck, Van Persie.