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Manchester United jetted off for Amsterdam on Wednesday night without Patrice Evra, Ryan Giggs and Dimitar Berbatov. United will play their first ever Europa League game against Ajax on Thursday night and will play a strong team with no domestic fixture at the weekend. But manager Sir Alex Ferguson will be without three of his star names. Giggs, who is on the brink of his 900th game in United colours, was always expected to remain in Manchester to preserve his long-term fitness but it is a surpise that captain Evra and fringe striker Berbatov have not boarded the plane. Nani and Phil Jones, who have not been in the matchday squad since January 22, could make their return after being confirmed in the squad for the Amsterdam ArenA. Ashley Young, Tom Cleverley, Paul Pogba and Zeki Fryers are also named. The last time United have competed in a European match outside the Champions League was in 1995, when they were beaten on away goals by Russian outfit Rotor Volgograd in a UEFA Cup first round tie. Mexican striker Javier Hernandez is looking forward to the tie, even if it is in Europe's much-maligned secondary competition. "Both teams have come out of the Champions League and they both have a great history," said Hernandez. "We have won a lot of European Cups between us, so it will be a very interesting game. "We need to get used to the fact we are not in the Champions League this season. And the history of Manchester United is such that it doesn't matter which competition you are in, we want to win it, no matter who else is in it or whether it is an important trophy for other teams."Story | Conversation | February 15, 2012