Sir Alex Ferguson says that Chris Smalling will likely feature in Manchester United's Champions League tie against Portuguese side Braga tonight, as the club prepare to seal qualification for the next round of the European tournament.

Smalling has been out for most of the season due to a toe injury, causing defensive issues for Ferguson as Phil Jones, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic also suffered lengthy spells out of action.

But as United get ready in Portugal to keep their consistent winning record in the Champions League group stages alive, Ferguson has confirmed Smalling will 'play a part' in the squad tonight.

The Scot also gave an update on why Darren Fletcher had not travelled with the team, telling the United website: "Fletcher got a little bit of a cold on Sunday, and there's no point taking him travelling with a cold."

On Paul Scholes, he added: "Scholesy, for the last few games I've been resting him to freshen him up a little bit. I'm just taking care of an old man, that's all!"

Ferguson is no doubt preparing for a very busy schedule, with United looking set for more Champions League action while their title rivals Manchester City are able to concentrate solely on the Premier League.

Chris Smalling
Chris Smalling will be a timely boost for Manchester United's defence.

Meanwhile, Braga coach Jose Peseiro insisted that if Ferguson wants for Luis Nani to improve this season, he must give the Portugal international more opportunities to play.

"I know him," Peseiro told the Independent. "If he doesn't play, it is not easy for him. He doesn't feel well when he doesn't play - because he likes to play.

"All players have different personalities. Sure, the English players don't need too much support, but the Portuguese, Brazilian and Spanish players need more emotional contact.

"Sir Alex Ferguson can't speak differently to him than to the others. But I know some players need more. Nani needs more, I think."

United follow up their Champions League trip tongiht with an away fixture at Aston Villa at the weekend, and the side will be planning on taking maximum points as they look to keep top spot on the table.