Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson played questions over Louis Saha's fitness with a straight bat yesterday.

Last season Ferguson spoke publicly of the difficulties of convincing Saha he was fit to play. But the United manager has abandoned that tactic. Last night - crammed inside an interview area the size of a shoebox at the Olympiyskiy Stadium - Ferguson rather ducked the issue.

Is it - he was asked - frustrating that his only genuine "No 9" is so often unfit? Ferguson said: "Louis got his injury in the Wigan game, now it's just a matter of taking it carefully. It's nothing different from our normal procedures with him.

"You'd like everyone fit. The starts to our last three or four seasons have been the same, disrupted by injuries. We've had to deal with it . . . and this team are dealing with it very well.

"The important thing is to have the squad available and cope with it, which I think we're doing. This team are coming together, and in Tevez and Rooney we have two exceptionally good players who are a real threat to defenders."