Dimitar Berbatov
Manchester United's Berbatov walks off with the match ball after their English Premier League match against Wigan Athletic in Manchester. Reuters

Dimitar Berbatov will be allowed to leave Manchester United in the summer, after Sir Alex Ferguson admitted he could not guarantee the striker first-team football.

Berbatov, 31, has fallen down the pecking-order at Old Trafford this season, with Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck all vying for places ahead of him.

And Ferguson has acknowledged for the first time that Manchester United's £30.75m forward could leave when his contract expires at the end of the current campaign.

"At 31, he is looking at first-team football, said Ferguson. "It is difficult for me to guarantee that so it could lead to him looking elsewhere," Ferguson is quoted on talkSPORT.

"We will be taking up the option on his contract but, having had chats with him, I understand he wants to get first-team football.

"It is something we need to consider at the end of the season. For a player of his age and his ability it is disappointing for him that he is not getting first-team football. We will look at the end of the season but until then, he remains at [Manchester] United."

Meanwhile, Ferguson is convinced Manchester United can avoid crashing out of the Europa League when they face Athletic Bilbao in Spain on Thursday.

The Premier League leaders lost the first leg 3-2 at Old Trafford but Ferguson believes their experience of playing in the latter stages of Europe should carry them through to the last eight this evening.

"We have done really well to hang in there," Ferguson is quoted on ESPN Soccernet. "That is more or less what we have done no matter what the team has been.

"For instance, with [Phil] Jones and [Chris] Smalling not available that's a door slamming in the face again. But we keep carrying on and it does point to resilience in the team that is really admirable.

"They have done exceptionally well. It's an achievement in the sense of they're still banging in there in the league. Yes, there was the disappointment in the Champions League but we still can win this game tomorrow and I think the players believe that."