Date: 6th January 2006 at 3:53pm
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Burton player-manager Nigel Clough has told his players to rise above their non-league status and showcase their skills.

The 39-year-old, now in his eighth year of management at semi-professional Burton, said: ‘A lot of the lads in our squad are players who have been released by Football League clubs.

‘When that happens it’s a huge disappointment for a player, and so many of them are here trying to make up for that disappointment while also trying to get back into league football. They’ll be keen to go out there against Manchester United, prove they can still do the business. And I’m sure they’re all looking forward to the game – whether it be the youngest member of our squad or someone like Darren Tinson who is 36.

‘And we can play too. Non-league football has a certain reputation but we’re a side who like to get the ball on the ground and pass it around a little bit. It’s a little bit disappointing we’re not playing at Old Trafford because the lads would’ve loved to have run out there.

‘But we’re playing at our own ground in front of our own fans and I’m delighted about that.’

Clough also took time out to reflect on what his father – legendary manager Brian, who passed away in 2004 aged 69 – would have made of the glamour tie.

Clough: ‘I think about him every day, and I’m sure he would have come to the game. More than anything, I wish he were here so he could deal with all the interviews and I could have a quiet life.

‘We’ve got a Birmingham Senior Cup quarter-final coming up 48 hours after the Manchester United game when the same group of players will be playing at Stourbridge – but I bet there won’t be half so many camera crews and press at that one.’

Clough himself is intending to direct operations from the touchline rather than midfield, and may not even be named among the substitutes.

Clough: ‘Will I be on the bench? Hopefully not. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for Gary Rowett, who has had problems with his back and hamstring, but I’m willing to leave a decision on whether he’ll play right up until he arrives at the ground on Sunday afternoon.’