Wayne Rooney is hopeful of being fit for Sunday’s Manchester derby following an injury scare on Monday when he was seen limping at a sponsors’ event at Old Trafford.
The Manchester United captain has now served a three-match suspension so is available again and while the club has remained tight-lipped regarding the precise nature of the issue Louis van Gaal is currently preparing for the trip to Manchester City with Rooney in mind.
If the 28-year-old is fit he is expected to go straight back into the starting XI as the manager has previously stated that as his captain Rooney has “special privileges” regarding always being selected.
Rooney’s availability would provide Van Gaal with a sizeable boost as he is the record scorer in Mancunian derbies with 11 goals.
In Rooney’s absence United have been unbeaten, winning once and drawing twice. The latter of these results was Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea at Old Trafford that came when Robin van Persie equalised in the 94th-minute to give United a psychological fillip ahead of the trip to the Etihad Stadium.
City are also enduring patchy form. Last week Manuel Pellegrini’s team allowed a two-goal half-time lead at CSKA Moscow to slip as the Russians drew 2-2 in a vital Champions League group game. City then lost 2-1 at West Ham United on Saturday so United will be hopeful of going to the champions and performing well, especially if Rooney is the line-up.
While Pellegrini admits to doing extra work to try and tighten up City’s wobbly defence, the manager claimed he would no make any special plans for Rooney despite his prolific record against the champions.
“We really don’t change our way to play for some player, or other player. If it’s not Wayne Rooney it will be Ángel di María, Juan Mata or Robin van Persie,” he said. “They have so many creative players that they have a lot of different chances [to score]. We cannot prepare for a game talking about one player. Because after it can happen that he doesn’t play and we have to change all of what we do. We really try to have a style of play every game. I am sure Wayne Rooney is one of the important players of Manchester United but I repeat, also other players are very difficult for us.”
In Rooney’s absence James Wilson has managed two league appearances as a replacement, the second of which came on Sunday when he came on for Juan Mata after 67 minutes.
Previously he replaced Radamel Falcao in the 2-1 win over Everton at the start of the month. Of having to compete with Falcao, Van Persie and Rooney, the 18-year-old said: “It’s great to be in contention with such names in the world of football as theirs. Obviously with the competition in training and even in the games as well, if I can just get a few minutes here and there, then hopefully I can get my chance further down the line.”