By Jonathan Birchall
Wayne Rooney is still at least a fortnight away from returning for Manchester United, with the club cautiously planning his recovery from a gash to his thigh.
The 26-year-old was taken to hospital after sustaining the injury following an accidental stamp by Fulham's Hugo Rodallega at Old Trafford on August 26, and Goal.com has learned that Sir Alex Ferguson is in no rush to bring the former Everton man back for first-team duties.
Medical staff at United's Carrington training base are concerned over potential infection to the gash, with the strapping protecting it being changed on a daily basis as Rooney continues upper body work in the gym with club physios.
The England striker, who is absent from Roy Hodgson's squad ahead of the Three Lions' World Cup qualifier against Moldova on Friday, started the season poorly for United and was dropped to bench after struggling for fitness in his side's 1-0 defeat away to Everton at Goodison Park.
Rooney's poor condition, coupled with Robin van Persie's phenomenal start to life at Old Trafford - in which he has scored four goals in just three games - has left Ferguson reluctant to speed up the the forward's recovery, with the Scot insisting that last season's top scorer at the club returns as close to full fitness as possible before playing again.
“The injury is maybe a blessing because he can concentrate on his fitness now in the gymnasium in particular," said Ferguson last week.
“He said himself he needs a few games and I wanted to play [Robin] van Persie at the start at Old Trafford. I knew he wasn't 100 per cent fit either. I couldn't really start the two of them."
Rooney has admitted that he returned to pre-season training seven pounds overweight after England's Euro 2012 campaign in Poland and Ukraine and was laboured in both the defeat to former club Everton and prior to being stretchered off against Fulham.
Club officials are hopeful that the striker can return to first-team action before the end of the month, but he is unlikely to feature in United's Champions League opener at home to Galatasaray on September 19, and may miss the key clash with Liverpool at Anfield the following Sunday.
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