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Fergie promises strongest line-up for Gregg tribute

By Stephen Beacom

Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed that he will bring his strongest Manchester United squad to play against an Irish League XI at Windsor Park next month for Harry Gregg's testimonial.

Ferguson's promise means the likes of Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand will all be in Belfast on May 15, if fit.

The Premier League season ends two days before Gregg's testimonial match with United hoping to wrap up their 20th title success at Sunderland, managed of course by Martin O'Neill who, along with Linfield boss David Jeffrey, will take charge of the Irish League select side, which will include two Derry City players.

No doubt international managers would prefer if their players didn't play once the domestic campaign ends, especially those going to the Euro 2012 finals, but Ferguson insists the tribute to Gregg will come first for the United stars.

Northern Ireland's 1958 World Cup hero Gregg was not just a legendary goalkeeper for United, he also saved lives with his bravery in the Munich air disaster and Ferguson, a true historian of the game, appreciates that.

Ferguson said: “We're bringing our strongest team over. We aren't just honouring what Harry did and his experiences at the Munich air disaster, you have to remember the career he had at United. I think it is apt that we send our best squad of players.”

Speaking on Johnny Hero's U105 show, the United boss added: “Harry is a special man. When anyone is talking to Harry, they know they are speaking to a genuine man and I'm really delighted to bring a team over.

“He was a very courageous goalkeeper. United signed him from Doncaster Rovers for about £23,000 and when you think of the prices of players today that was a bargain.

“He had a great career for United and for Northern Ireland and of course played in the World Cup in 1958 for his country.”

Gregg's countryman Jonny Evans will be involved at Windsor Park. Ferguson says he has been superb in the run that has taken United five points clear of Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table.

“Jonny has been excellent. He's now maturing and his form in the last two months alongside Rio Ferdinand has been absolutely fantastic. It is very important to have a partnership like that at the back,” said the Scot.

Tickets for the testimonial are available through Ticketmaster.

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