CORDOBA, Argentina (AP) – Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has promised record signing Dimitar Berbatov he will get games this season despite being left on the bench for Wednesday night's 1-1 draw with Benfica.
Berbatov has made just one appearance this season, coming on as a second-half substitute in United's opening Premier League match at West Brom.
Wednesday's Champions League encounter at the Stadium of Light seemed like the perfect opportunity for Berbatov to return, especially as Anders Lindegaard, Antonio Valencia and Darren Fletcher all made their first appearances of the season.
Instead, the £30.75million Bulgarian, who shared the Golden Boot prize with Carlos Tevez last season, remained where he was as Ferguson went with Wayne Rooney as a lone striker before introducing Javier Hernandez later on.
"It is hard because of the number of strikers we have," Ferguson said. "Michael Owen is there, Federico Macheda, Mame Biram Diouf. Danny Welbeck won't be back next week but probably the week after. It is not easy.
"Dimitar has been training terrific. His attitude is spot on. He will get his game time as the season wears on. There is no question about that."
Trailing to Oscar Cardozo's impressive strike and outplayed for long periods, United was thankful for Giggs' 27th Champions League goal, 17 years to the day since his first.
The Welshman has now scored in 16 seasons of the competition, another record.
Ferguson was also thankful for a fine display from Lindegaard, even if regular goalkeeper David de Gea is already assured of his spot for Sunday's showdown with Chelsea.
"We have two great goalkeepers," Ferguson said on Wednesday.
"We were always going to share it and David will play on Sunday against Chelsea and possibly Anders will play at Leeds next Tuesday, depending upon how we see the situation with Ben Amos, who needs some game time also.
"There are opportunities to spread the load. The English league is so frenetic. Coming into that, as a young goalkeeper, there will be times when we can give him (De Gea) a break.
"Tonight was a good moment because he had a fantastic game on Saturday."
Ferguson is clearly sensitive to criticism of De Gea though, judging by the way he attacked ITV post-match interviewer Kelly Cates when she asked whether Lindegaard had given him a selection dilemma.
"I don't know why you ask these questions, you're just looking for stupid little things," Ferguson snapped, re-opening a feud with the Dalglish family that dates back to the very early days of his near 25-year reign at United, when Liverpool, under Cates' father Kenny, were top dogs.