Wednesday 23 May 2018

Wayne Rooney doubtful for Newcastle match

Phil Medlicott

MANCHESTER United are sweating over the fitness of Wayne Rooney ahead of their Barclays Premier League clash with Newcastle.

Rooney sustained a hip injury in the win at Swansea last weekend which ruled him out of last night's 2-2 Champions League draw with Benfica at Old Trafford, and it remains to be seen whether or not he will be available for the Magpies' visit to the stadium on Saturday.

Asked about the England striker's condition last night, United boss Sir Alex Ferguson said: "He wasn't fit for tonight, so we need to wait to see what he is like over the next few days.

"We will give him every chance, of course - we did for today, but he wasn't really fit, so we'll just have to wait."

In the absence of their talisman, United fell behind in the fourth minute against Benfica through Phil Jones' own goal but equalised on the half-hour when Dimitar Berbatov - in the team as a replacement for Rooney - headed in Nani's centre.

Darren Fletcher put the hosts in front 14 minutes after the break, only for Pablo Aimar to draw things level again seconds later.

The result means Group C leaders Benfica have qualified for the last 16 with a game to spare, while second-placed United - level with the Portuguese outfit on points but trailing them on head-to-head record - will get through if they avoid defeat in Switzerland next month against Basle, who are one point behind in third.

Ferguson admits that with Benfica facing Romania's Otelul Galati - the bottom side, who have lost every fixture so far - at home in their final group match, it is likely to be second spot at best for United and a potentially tough draw in the next round.

He is upbeat about the situation, though, as he was about his team's performance.

"I think we did well," Ferguson said.

"It is hard when you lose a goal straight away in a match and it took us a bit of a while to get our rhythm going again, but once we did we played really well.

"We didn't deserve what happened tonight, but football can be like that.

"If we had had just a few minutes after we had scored the second goal I think we would have been OK, but it was too early to lose that second goal."

On the prospect of missing out on top spot, the Scot said: "It makes it a bit harder of course, but if you look at it in a different way - maybe the bigger game will suit us anyway.

"Hopefully we are in that situation, in second place - because I don't think Benfica will lose to Galati, I'm sure they will win that match.

"Then the opportunities are against (a team like) Inter, Barcelona, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich.

"You have to judge that in this way - if you played them in the semi-final or the final, you would be only too delighted, knowing the possibility there is to win."

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