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Ferguson: Berbatov likely to leave Old Trafford

The Bulgarian finished as the Premier League’s top scorer last season but has struggled for first-team football this term.

Dimitar Berbatov: wants first-team football.
Dimitar Berbatov: wants first-team football.
Image: AFP

MANCHESTER UNITED BOSS Alex Ferguson says striker Dimitar Berbatov is likely to leave Old Trafford at the end of the season.

The Bulgarian finished as the Premier League’s top scorer last season but has struggled for first-team football this term, making just 10 league appearances. The United manager said the 31-year-old is frustrated with his lack of opportunities.

“His concern is not getting first-team football,” Ferguson said. “At 31, he is looking at first-team football. It is difficult for me to guarantee that, so it could lead to him looking elsewhere,” he said.

“We will be taking up the option on his contract but, having had chats with him, I understand he wants to get first-team football.

“It is something we need to consider at the end of the season. For a player of his age and his ability, it is disappointing for him that he is not getting first-team football. We will look at the end of the season but until then, he remains at United.”

Ferguson said his wealth of talent up front made it difficult for Berbatov to break into the side.

“He could play (in the Europa League against Athletic Bilbao) but I have good options in terms of front players with Javier Hernandez, Danny Welbeck and Wayne Rooney,” Ferguson said.

United will attempt to overturn a 3-2 first-leg deficit in their Europa League meeting with Bilbao on Thursday, and Ferguson revealed Rio Ferdinand would start in defence. Chris Smalling is likely to start on the bench after failing to fully recover from a head injury and Phil Jones is ruled out with flu, with Ferdinand set to start alongside Jonny Evans in defence.

Brazilian midfielder Anderson is also sidelined with a hamstring injury. ”Jones went down with flu yesterday,” Ferguson said.

“Ando (Anderson) could be out for four or five weeks due to his hamstring. Some hamstrings are relatively straightforward but we have to wait and see how he is in the next week or so to get a better idea of where we stand with him. It’s a difficult tie for us. Bilbao have a tremendous advantage after winning at Old Trafford. It’s a challenge but not one that is beyond us.

“Our record away from home helps us – we’ve done very well. We’re going to need a good performance,” he added.

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