Rooney set for starring role for Reds in Dublin
Wayne Rooney could be back in the Manchester United side earlier than expected.
The England striker is in line to face an Airtricity League XI in the first soccer match at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on August 4.
Manager Alex Ferguson has confirmed Rooney and the other World Cup players could come into consideration for the friendly, even though they are not due to return to training until Wednesday.
He said: "They have a chance of playing in that. It depends on their progress when they come back on July 28."
Apart from Rooney, Michael Carrick, Patrice Evra, Park Ji-sung and Nemanja Vidic could all come into contention for the showpiece match in Dublin. United have a number of injuries with Rio Ferdinand, Gary Neville, Michael Owen, Antonio Valencia, Owen Hargreaves and Anderson all absent from the summer tour.
Meanwhile, United are set to end the uncertainty surrounding the future of Vidic by offering the defender a new contract worth £90,000 a week.
Vidic, due to return to pre-season training next Wednesday following his World Cup participation with Serbia, has two years remaining on his current £70,000-a-week deal.
But Real Madrid's long-term interest in the 28-year-old, combined with cryptic comments from the player's representatives and rumours that Vidic's wife, Ana, is unsettled in Manchester, have raised doubts over his commitment to United.
When asked to clarify Vidic's situation following United's 1-0 friendly victory against Philadelphia Union in Philadelphia yesterday, Ferguson said: "I can't clarify it at all," before conceding that he "believed" the defender would continue to be a United player next season.
With Rio Ferdinand enduring an injury-ravaged season last term -- he is sidelined again with a knee problem -- and only Wes Brown offering experienced back-up at centre-half, Ferguson is concerned that losing Vidic would leave United vulnerable defensively. (© Daily Telegraph, London)