LONDON, April 25, 2011 (AFP) - Manchester United's top scorer Dimitar Berbatov will miss his club's Champions League semi-final against Schalke on Tuesday having failed to recover from a slight groin strain.
The Bulgarian also missed Saturday's Premier League win over Everton and whilst Sir Alex Ferguson claimed after that 1-0 triumph that he had no fitness concerns ahead of the first-leg encounter at the Veltins-Arena, Berbatov did not check in with the rest of his team-mates at Manchester Airport on Monday.
|AFP - UEFA President Michel Platini (R) presents the UEFA Champions League Cup to Mayor of London, Boris Johnson (L) during a 'handover' ceremony at the Guildhall in London, on April 20, 2011.|
Although the former Tottenham man had been unlikely to start anyway, his absence is a blow as it denies Ferguson a useful attacking weapon on the bench should the match not go as planned.
He does have the in-form Javier Hernandez, who bagged his 19th goal of the season at the weekend, and Wayne Rooney, who will not remember his last trip to Gelsenkirchen with any fondness as he was sent off during England's World Cup quarter-final defeat to Portugal in 2006.
Although one of their most famous nights came against German opposition in 1999, United have not beaten a Bundesliga side in a two-legged encounter since the European Cup was revamped into the Champions League in 1992.
Bayern Munich put paid to their hopes at the quarter-final stage last year and 1997 and 2002 brought semi-final despair at the hands of Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen respectively.
United are overwhelming favourites to book a blockbuster Wembley confrontation with either Real Madrid or Barcelona on May 28.