Leaving five out is hard, says Sir Alex

SIR ALEX FERGUSON admits he will find it tough to tell five unlucky title winners they will not be involved in Manchester United's Champions League final with Barcelona.

Although Ferguson's starting line-up can largely be predicted aside from two or three positions, the Red Devils' bench for the Wembley showpiece remains open to doubt. Darren Fletcher's hopes of involvement seemed to reduce when he remained on the bench throughout Gary Neville's testimonial at Old Trafford last night, which would mean a third successive heartbreak given he was an unused substitute against Chelsea in 2008 and suspended the following year against Barca.

Michael Owen and Darron Gibson are two others in danger of missing the cut. Ferguson knows informing anyone not involved is a thankless task. "It is not easy picking a team because you are dealing with the human side of the game," he said. "Players have worked hard for the team all season and it has been a squad game for us anyway. Unfortunately there is one person who has to tell them and that is me. It is not an easy job but it has to be done. They all understand that. I pick the team for the right reasons and I pick the subs for the right reasons as well."