Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed that Wayne Rooney will not be fit to face Liverpool on Sunday, but could return next week.
Rooney has been sidelined for a month, after suffering a severe gash to his leg in United's 3-2 home win over Fulham, and is due to make his comeback quicker than expected.
But Ferguson has admitted today that the England forward will not be available for this weekend's fixture against rivals Liverpool at Anfield, meaning Robin van Persie will lead the United line.
"Everyone who played on Wednesday is available. I know there were reports on Rooney being available but that's not the case," Ferguson told reporters.
"He’s not far away, he’s working hard and we just need to get him into football training now. He could be back next week."
Ferguson was also boosted by the news that midfielders Darren Fletcher and Ashley Young are nearing their respective first team returns, after lengthy spells out of the squad.
“Ashley Young has a bruised cartilage – he’ll be okay in two to three weeks,” he added.
"Fletcher won't start on Sunday but he'll play against Newcastle - that's the perfect game for him to start."