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The Scot was lambasted for resting players in the competition, with Port Vale fans taking a motion to Westminster in 1994, but he believes himself to be vindicated in his decision

Sir Alex Ferguson has defended his policy of resting senior players for the League Cup as it allowed young players such as David Beckham to launch their careers.

Manchester United host Crystal Palace in the competition on Wednesday with the winners joining Manchester City, Liverpool and Cardiff in the semi-finals.

Sir Alex is expected to rest most of the side who drew with Newcastle at the weekend, giving opportunities to players such as Ravel Morrison and Paul Pogba amongst others.

The United boss was one of the first to make wholesale changes to his team for League Cup encounters but he has defended his policy and said that he still enjoys the competition as it makes a nice change from playing the same teams in the Premier League.

“I like the Carling Cup,” he told reporters.

“It’s a change of scene with different opposition, different managers and different players.

“It’s a refreshing competition that has served Manchester United well over the years.

“Some regard it as the poor relation of the cup competitions but I don’t knock it. It was a trophy we won to keep us in touch with the honours board before we were able to crack the league championship.

“We have won it five times altogether and it has also served us well in terms of being a valuable development aid for our younger players.

“It’s more than proved its worth by enabling me to give senior pitch time to players who are perhaps not quite ready for full action in the Premier League, but who need to play at the kind of level that will bridge the gap and get them there."

Sir Alex was criticised for fielding a young side in a second-round tie against Port Vale in 1994 which United won 2-1.

The side that day contained Beckham, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville and Nicky Butt, who had only 13 appearances for the club between them but would all go on to establish themselves as first-team regulars later on in their careers.

Vale were so upset with Sir Alex that they tabled a motion which led to a debate in Parliament, but the Scot believes fans should be aware that they could be watching future superstars in action before they start complaining about the competition being devalued.

“I smile when I think back to the days when I perhaps startled many people by ringing the changes - in particular I remember the fuss my selection for a League Cup tie at Port Vale provoked,” he said.

“Vale supporters, disappointed at the prospect of not being able to see some of our star names at their ground, took their complaints to the press and even to the House of Commons.

“John Rudge, who was manager of Port Vale at the time, told me that even his wife was one of the people who complained.

“What they didn’t know of course was that they would be witnessing the launch of the Beckham era and we know how successful they went on to become!

“I like to think that I never took my policy to extremes and that I always sincerely felt that every team I selected for the League Cup was good enough to win [the game].

“It will be exactly the same as we welcome Crystal Palace. I’ll stick by the squad that has got us this far, continuing to stick to the format we have established for the competition.”

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