United's Portuguese duo primed to take on former club

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MANCHESTER, England, Nov 26 (Reuters) Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson will again unleash Portuguese duo Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani against their former club Sporting in Tuesday's Champions League tie at Old Trafford.

Ronaldo, the match-winner in Lisbon in September, was rested for United's shock Premier league defeat by Bolton on Saturday but will return for the Group F tie as Ferguson's side looks to extend their 100 per cent record to five games.

''I don't normally give my team out but I can tell you there will be two Portuguese players playing tomorrow,'' Ferguson told a news conference today.

Ronaldo is already established as a key player in United's pursuit of a first Champions League success since 1999 and Ferguson also hailed the impact fellow winger Nani, 20, has made since following his Portugal international team mate to Old Trafford from Sporting in the close season.

''We're very pleased with Nani's performances,'' Ferguson added. ''As a young boy he has settled in very well and he's showing almost every week there is an improvement so I can't be more delighted than I am with his start at the club.'' Ferguson also confirmed that Tomasz Kuszczak will start in goal and there will be places in his side for midfielders Darren Fletcher and John O'Shea, while defender Nemanja Vidic is also fit to return after missing the 1-0 defeat at Bolton.

The United manager may include some young players on the bench but will not weaken his team for a game that could end Sporting's qualification hopes and take United through as group winners.

''I think the incentives are huge for us tomorrow. If we win, we win the group and therefore look forward to being seeded number one from the group for next February's knockout stage. I think that's important,'' Ferguson said.

A United victory would also allow Ferguson to rest players for the subsequent 'dead' game against AS Roma in Rome ahead of United's important league game against Liverpool on December 16.

Ferguson is also looking for a positive response to Saturday's loss at Bolton when United were beaten in the league for only the second time this season.

''It's always important how you recover. It's never been any different and over the years I think we've coped with that quite well,'' he added.

''I am sure Sporting expect us to attack them and be positive and I'm sure 75,000 fans will also expect us to be positive and I don't think we will let them down.'' WStriker Wayne Rooney, defender Gary Neville and midfielder Paul Scholes are all still absent for United.

REUTERS JT BD2200

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