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Preview - Man Utd

November 10 2004

Iain Dowie

Iain Dowie

Crystal Palace boss Iain Dowie hopes Sir Alex Ferguson will not be taking the Carling Cup seriously as his side look to take their impressive form to Old Trafford tonight, by Staurt Pink.

Ferguson is expected to make wholesale changes to his Manchester United side, bringing in a mixture of inexperienced youngsters and fringe players, so he can rest key players ahead of their continued Champions League and Premiership campaigns.

But Dowie, who will be making changes of his own, hopes to take advantage of a weakened United side and book a place in the quarter finals.

Dowie said: "It's a massive task to go and win at Old Trafford, but it's one we hope to do.

"It's a cup competition and it's a one off, Alex has mixed his pack a lot, so maybe if Man United have a little bit of an off-day, and we have a good day then why not?"

Dowie admitted this week that Andy Johnson (hip), Wayne Routledge (illness) and Fitz Hall (knee), are likely to miss the tie along with Gonzalo Sorondo, who is expected to be out for four to six weeks with a hamstring injury which forced him off against Arsenal last Saturday.

But the Palace boss is adamant any team he puts out is good enough to beat United and feels that some of his fringe players can easily make the step up to Premiership level, such as Mikele Leigertwood, who replaced Sorondo with such effect on Saturday.

Dowie said: "I think that 22 players can play in the team and not seriously weaken us. Any team without Fitz, without AJ, Hughesy and Aki at the moment, you will weaken your side and that's not criticising anyone else.

"But generally the lads are playing at an outstanding level and I'm delighted for Mikele as he came in and played at a level and looked really comfortable."

Dowie also believes the prospect of playing at Old Trafford will inspire his players and feels there are few better places to play football.

Dowie said: "We believe it is one of the greatest grounds in the country, and one of our favourite grounds. It is the theatre, it's almost like a Roman amphitheatre, it's a fantastic place to play football. "You can go there and enjoy it, it's a fantastic experience for a young team."

After the result against Arsenal, Palace will be looking at their tough November calendar with nothing to fear and Dowie feels his team will benefit from the experience of playing against these top sides.

Dowie added: "We've got over one small hurdle, now we've got to prepare to go to Man United and get something, go to Liverpool and get something and entertain Newcastle.

"But let's enjoy this, enjoy the challenge of competing against the best in the world, then you're going to learn something.

"That's the point about developing our players and they will improve and develop because of these tests."

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