Tuesday 21 January 2020

Rooney eyes up Cup return as he steps up recovery

Wayne Rooney (Reuters)
Wayne Rooney (Reuters)

Wayne Rooney has returned to training, but will not be risked in Manchester United's crucial trip to Tottenham.

A knee injury has kept the 30-year-old out for nearly two months, but the United captain is closing in on a first-team return. Rooney this week took part in two training sessions as he stepped up his rehabilitation, although Louis van Gaal will not risk him at title-chasing Spurs on Sunday.

Instead, Rooney will line up on Monday as United's U-21 side host Middlesbrough.

"No (he won't play at Tottenham), he's playing for the U-21s," said manager Van Gaal.

"It's going very well. He has trained with us two times - only two times so it's not too much.

"He has to build up his capacity in the 21s team."

A solid display for the U-21s could see Rooney feature in Wednesday's FA Cup quarter-final replay at West Ham. But Van Gaal may instead prefer to ease the forward back against embattled Aston Villa on April 16 - an option the Dutchman now has thanks to his injury problems alleviating.

Not so long ago United were facing an injury crisis, but they have very few problems to contend with as the season draws to a close.

"There was a time when I could select only the fit players and now with all the youngsters, who have proved that they are capable to play, and with all the players coming back, now I have to select. I have a bigger squad so I have said to my players you have to help your colleagues when they are not selected."

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