Rooney's woes mount as Hernandez takes chance
Manchester, the red half at least, was once indisputably Wayne's World, but it's funny how quickly things can change.
As he returns from his week-long break in Dubai this weekend, Wayne Rooney will survey a whole new landscape when he emerges from the arrivals hall at Manchester Airport.
On the surface, Alex Ferguson's concerns over the state of Rooney's ankle -- which the Manchester United manager fears will keep the 25-year-old sidelined beyond the three weeks initially forecast -- is the public reason why the Scot is in no mood to rush him back.
Even the Manchester derby at Eastlands, on November 10, is likely to be negotiated without Rooney, according to Ferguson's latest bulletin on the player's fitness.
"Wayne is away at the moment so there is no recovery," Ferguson said. "He's having a rest, but he is obviously still injured. He did his remedial work before he went (to Dubai), in terms of what we can do. Thereafter, rest is what he needs and we're quite happy with that. Three weeks? I think it will be a bit longer than that."
However, the emergence of Javier Hernandez during Rooney's absence is perhaps the more telling factor in Ferguson's reluctance to rush back last season's 34-goal top scorer. 'Chicharito' has scored six goals in 11 games since his arrival from Guadalajara and the 22-year-old will start against Tottenham at Old Trafford tonight.
His impact has already led to fans sporting multicoloured sombreros as a tribute.
Rooney's eventual return to full fitness will leave Ferguson with the problem of accommodating United's best-paid player alongside Hernandez and Dimitar Berbatov, but Ferguson admits that Hernandez is the least likely to miss out.
"Of course it will be difficult, but I'm not even suggesting he (Hernandez) will be left out." Ferguson said. "He's keeping his place in the team because he deserves to." (© Daily Telegraph, London)