Sir Alex Ferguson
Manchester United Boss Sir Alex Ferguson Reuters

Wayne Rooney will be unavailable for Sir Alex Ferguson's side when Manchester United host Ajax in the second leg of Europa League at Old Trafford on Thursday, with the Red Devils leading 2-0 on aggregate.

Rooney is suffering from a throat infection, and should be available for Sunday's battle with Norwich City. The absence of the star forward may mean Ferguson uses young French attacking midfielder Paul Progba, who has been used sparingly this season.

Dimitar Berbatov is expected to start, and Ferguson will likely give time to Ashley Young and Chris Smalling.

Ajax are currently plagued by injuries. Frank de Boer will be without Theo Janssen, Nicolai Boilesen, Gregory van der Wiel Dmitri Bulykin, and Eyong Enoh, but will welcome back defender Andre Ooijer and up-and-coming forward Davy Klaassen.

Ajax are looking for some positive results from a forgettable season. The Lancers are in sixth place in the Eredivisie, but are still within striking distance of leader PSV, who are just five points ahead.

In their first meeting in Amsterdam on Feb. 16, United received second-half goals from Young and Javier Hernandez, in a rather sloppy contest. Possession was even and Ajax had twice as many shots, and shots on goal, as the visitors.

The winner of Manchester United - Ajax will face the winner of Athletic Bilbao - Lokomotiv Moscow. The next match between the two clubs is on Thursday with Lokomotiv holding a 2-1 lead.

PREDICTION: Should Manchester United avoid careless mistakes and hard fouls, this should be a relatively easy victory. Ajax is missing key players, and have suffered some lackluster losses in recent weeks. Expect a big match from Berbatov and the midfield, as the Red Devils ease past a beleagured Ajax club in the second half.

PREDICTED SCORE: Manchester United over Ajax, 3-1.

Probable Lineups:


G: De GeaD: Rafael, Jones, Smalling, Fabio M: Park, Cleverley, Scholes, Young F: Berbatov, Hernandez


G: VermeerD: Van Rhijn, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, KoppersM: De Jong, Eriksen, AnitaF: Ozbiliz, Lodeiro, Sulejmani