Six Red Devils to face FA Cup axe

LONDON • Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has admitted that he will have to disappoint six players as he boasts a near fully-fit squad for today's FA Cup semi-final against Everton.

Two players who would loathe to miss out are former Toffees Wayne Rooney and Marouane Fellaini.

United skipper Rooney has never won the FA Cup and was left out of the Reds Devils side that lost to his former club at this stage of the competition in 2009.

The form of 18-year-old striker Marcus Rashford and the pace of Anthony Martial, 20, might see Rooney absent from United's frontline once again. But the 30-year-old - back in action after a knee injury - could be given another start in a midfield role.

Rooney pulled the strings from a deeper position in Wednesday's 2-0 Premier League win over Crystal Palace, helping United see 66 per cent of the ball.

Van Gaal was pleased with how his captain switched the play and also suggested that he is reluctant to move Rashford away from the No. 9 position.

Fellaini is also hoping he has done enough to show that he deserves a start after scoring the winner in the 2-1 FA Cup quarter-final win at West Ham.

The Belgium international was part of the Everton team who defeated United on penalties seven years ago and wants to progress to another showpiece final.

"I played against United that day and won, but that is in the past and I want to win again this time with United," Fellaini, who moved to Old Trafford from Goodison Park for £27 million (S$52 million) in 2014, was quoted in the British media as saying.

"It's always strange to play against your former team, but we know what we have to do. We want to be in the final and we have one more step to take."

Like Rooney, Fellaini can be deployed in midfield or up front. Unsurprisingly, he is willing to play in any position - as long as he gets a run out at Wembley.

"I enjoy my role and, whenever the manager puts me in the team, I always give everything," Fellaini said. "He trusts me, he knows what I can do."

Van Gaal has ruled out only Bastian Schweinsteiger, Luke Shaw and Adnan Januzaj for the game.

"We have a squad of fit players," said the Dutchman. "I must select 18 players and I have 24 who are fit, so I have to disappoint six of them."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 23, 2016, with the headline 'Six Red Devils to face FA Cup axe'. Print Edition | Subscribe