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The Scottish manager believes the current forward options are the best at Old Trafford since 1999, but stated that both Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie need time to build fitness

Sir Alex Ferguson has hailed the strength of Manchester United's strike force, admitting he does not know what his best front two partnership is.

United have last season's top two Premier League scorers in their ranks in Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney, while they also boast the likes of striking starlets Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez in the squad.

With all four players now fully fit again and vying for places in the starting XI, Ferguson has conceded that he is still unsure as to who is first-choice up front.

"I don’t know where I'm going in the sense of what my best strike partnership will be," he told reporters.

"That's because I haven't seen Rooney and Van Persie together yet. But I'm happy in the knowledge I have the options there.

"Probably the strongest part of the club at the moment will be in the striker department. Welbeck and Chicharito have been doing very well too, so I could play any combinations."

Wayne Rooney recently admitted he was relishing the competition for places at the club, insisting that the arrival of players of Van Persie's calibre would give the squad a boost – a belief echoed by his manager.

"[Van Perise's arrival] should give everyone a push," Ferguson continued. "Chicharito has done nothing wrong, while Welbeck is promising and has shown that with England.

"He's in the same position as Chicharito in that they’re not the first-team choices at the moment.

"That doesn't mean to say it will stay that way, because competition is always healthy.

"Being the kind of young lads they are, they're desperate to establish themselves in our first-team. That's what competition is.

"We had it in 1999. It did a lot of good for Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke, because they knew Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wanted to play.

"They did get a lot of football and I was able to change them around several times."

United handed Rooney his first start since suffering a leg injury against Fulham for Wednesday's 2-1 League Cup win over Newcastle, and Ferguson has praised the player's efforts to keep himself physically sharp during his absence.

"Wayne had a great training programme in the time he was off," the 70-year-old added.

"He was never out of the gym to begin with, because running was out of the question.

"In the last two weeks, he gradually got into the football part - not in a contact situation, but in a lot of the training sessions as a spare player, just being on the ball and playing for both teams.

"He was getting his fitness back very well in terms of his timing. Wayne has to get through that period now where he gets game-time.

"Van Persie has also still got a bit to do in terms of game-time, because he missed all of the pre-season."

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