MANCHESTER (AFP) Manchester United assistant manager Mike Phelan denied Friday reports financial problems at the English champions caused them to pull out of a deal to sign Serbian teenager Adem Ljajic. United had an option to buy the attacking midfielder from Partizan Belgrade in the January transfer window but the deal has collapsed and Phelan insisted it was due to red tape issues. Ljajic, 18, had a 10-day trial with United, one of the most successful clubs on and off the field but reportedly heavily in debt to the tune of 800 million euros, in October last year and had been lined up for a move to Old Trafford. But the transfer will not be happening and Phelan said: The situation with Adem is that we went down the road of trying to get a work permit for him. But what we got back from the Home Office (Britains Interior Ministry) was that we wouldnt be able to get that through before we needed to make a decision in January. Do you then want to commit to yourself to spending that amount of money if you cant get the permit? As it stands, he wont be joining us in January. Im not aware of their being a problem financially. I wouldnt have thought money was an issue. United travel to West Ham on Saturday looking to secure the win that will help them keep pace with Premier League leaders Chelsea, whom they currently trail by five points. However, United will go to Upton Park without Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans, John OShea and Owen Hargreaves. These injuries could persuade manager Sir Alex Ferguson to spring one or two surprised when it comes to naming his team, with Darron Gibson in line to make a rare Premier League start after impressing with two goals in the midweek League Cup quarter-final win over Tottenham United have been drawn against neighbours Manchester City in the last four of the League Cup and Phelan insisted Ferguson will resist the temptation to recall his big name stars when they come up against Mark Hughess men. Phelan reckoned Ferguson would keep faith with those who have helped the club reach the semi-finals, even though they will come up against the strongest possible team Hughes can field. United have blooded several youngsters in the competition this season, including Evans, Danny Welbeck and Gabriel Obertan and nothing, it seems, is about to change. Its great that we are facing City, said Phelan. We are in a semi-final but we will still use a certain number of players that we have in the past. This game will get the city of Manchester buzzing. We like getting to finals and we will prepare for that game as normal, as and when we have to. You never want to go into a game wanting to lose and it will be special because of the United-City thing. But our policy is to give all the players the chance to play in the competition. We would love to get to the final. Phelan revealed England international Hargreaves is desperate to return to the fold following double knee surgery but believes he will have to continue being patient. Its a softly, softly approach. Hes out there running around and we are working hard with him on a theme to help him come back, Phelan explained. His overall fitness is looking very good, but he hasnt got involved in a team situation yet. Its not a problem, its just the nature of the injury. Hes as keen as mustard and so determined to get back out there with the group of players. Meanwhile, Sir Alex Ferguson is poised to recall his big guns when Manchester United travel to Upton Park on a mission to keep in touch with Chelsea at the top of the Premier League table. Ferguson fielded a youthful side in the midweek League Cup victory over Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford and was rewarded as the likes of Danny Welbeck, Darron Gibson, Federico Macheda, Gabriel Obertan and Ritchie de Laet impressed in Uniteds comfortable passage to the semi-finals. The Scot has been full of praise for those who have stepped up to the plate, and critical of those who have dared to suggest the players in question might not meet the high standards required at Old Trafford. Yet it is doubtful Ferguson will trust any of them enough to hand them regular exposure to the tough demands of the Premier League, mainly because Uniteds margin for error in the title race is minimal given the five-point advantage Chelsea currently hold at the top of the table. The exception could be Gibson, whose two goals in midweek have presented Ferguson with a selection dilemma. The Ireland midfielder has shown he is ready for a continued run in the team but the problem Ferguson faces is accommodating him in an area of the side where he is spoilt for choice. The recent form of Anderson and Michael Carrick has dipped and these two could be the most vulnerable should Ferguson decide to hand Gibson another chance to impress in a line-up that will see Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs, Darren Fletcher and possibly Paul Scholes return. Veteran defender Gary Neville believes the midweek display against Spurs was proof that United have another golden generation of young stars on their books and he argued that those on the fringes should now be considered an integral part of Uniteds first team squad. I dont think theyre younger players, Neville said. Theyre playing for their countries and they deserve to be there by right. Theyre Premier League players of that quality, although theyre obviously developing. Its going to be difficult to go all the way in the League Cup, but were in the semi-finals again and we want to continue to do well this year. Having struggled badly earlier in the season, West Ham have moved out of the relegation zone by winning two of their last four matches and, like Ferguson, manager Gianfranco Zola is reaping the benefit of giving homegrown young players their chance. Few of the Hammers proteges have impressed more than winger Zavon Hines, who is relishing the chance to test himself against the champions. The Jamaican-born forward is not lacking in confidence and insists he will not be overawed by the reputations of the players he will come up against on Saturday. I am looking forward to the game and it doesnt matter who you play. When Arsenal came here we were really up for it and came back from 2-0 down so Im happy to take on anyone. Every time I come on I feel happy because not a lot of people get into my position. Playing for West Ham is a big thing for me and every time I play I get more confidence. Hines is set to start on Saturday with West Hams England striker Carlton Cole sidelined by a knee ligament injury. Swiss midfielder Valon Behrami is also out and Zola is sweating on the availability of Matthew Upson, who is struggling with a hamstring problem.