Clarets just about at full strength

Last updated : 03 December 2002 By Tony Scholes
Lee Briscoe - back from suspension
After a few weeks of having his squad stretched by injuries and suspensions Stan says he has all but Andy Payton available.

Lee Briscoe is back from suspension whilst Ian Cox, Steve Davis and Gareth Taylor were all back on the subs bench last Saturday with the latter two coming on. Davis collected eight stitches in a head wound but Stan says he is OK.

The news should also mean that Paul Cook is available again having damaged a nerve in his arm during the 2-0 win against Norwich 10 days ago.

Stan has given a clear indication that Davis will be back in the starting line up saying that he is important to us and that he had a good half hour at Watford. Davis has said clearly that he prefers playing at the back but Stan seems to want to play him in midfield. I suspect the gaffer might win the day on this one.

I would think Taylor will return to the starting line up, and again Stan has stressed just how much we miss him when he is not available. There is no doubt that we don't have a ready replacement for him.

So here goes, my guess at the eleven Stan will start with is: Marlon Beresford, Dean West, Mark McGregor, Arthur Gnohere, Graham Branch, Glen Little, Steve Davis, Tony Grant, Lee Briscoe, Robbie Blake, Gareth Taylor. Subs from: Ian Cox, Tony Grant, Brad Maylett, Alan Moore, Ian Moore, Dimitri Papadopoulos.

Manchester United were expected to bring a fairly inexperienced side especially with the fixtures directly before and after this game. That was clearly Alex Ferguson's intention but because of injuries to a number of his fringe players that has not been possible and against his better judgement he is expected to field a strong side.

Both Gary Neville and Quinton Fortune are doubtful with injuries picked up at Anfield but Ferguson said he hopes one of them can play due to the lack of numbers. He said both will be available for Saturday but they are touch and go for tonight.

One player definitely not playing is French goalkeeper Fabien Barthez and his place will go to either Roy Carroll or Ricardo Lopez.

"I don't have any option but to play the side that played against Liverpool", said Ferguson. "The likes of Michael Stewart and Luke Chadwick have a chance of playing."

Whoever starts for them they are likely to choose from: Ricardo Lopez, Roy Carroll, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Mikael Silvestre, West Brown, David May, John O'Shea, Juan Sebastian Veron, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Quinton Fortune, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Luke Chadwick, Diego Forlan, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Michael Stewart and Kieran Richardson.