By Paul Clennam
Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney faces a crucial 48 hours in his recovery from injury as Sir Alex Ferguson considers risking the forward against rivals Manchester City on Monday night.
The 27-year-old has still not trained since picking up a groin injury on international duty with England, and will be monitored in the coming days ahead of a late fitness test prior to the match.
Rooney was forced to miss the Red Devils’ FA Cup sixth-round replay defeat against Chelsea and club staff are wary of upping the ante too soon and hampering his recovery.
But Sir Alex is aware that victory over Roberto Mancini’s side would almost guarantee the Premier League title, and is ready to throw the striker back into action.
“He got a groin injury playing for England and he wasn’t 100 per cent [Sunday],” said Sir Alex prior to the cup loss at Stamford Bridge, though remained optimistic of the forward’s chances of featuring against City.
“There’s no point risking a player with a groin injury. Hopefully he’ll be ready for next Monday’s game.”
Rooney’s return will be welcome news given the faltering form of Robin van Persie in recent weeks.
The Dutchman’s failure to net against Chelsea extended his goal drought for the league leaders to nine games, while Rooney has bagged eight goals in 12 matches since the turn of the year, and struck twice for the Three Lions during the recent international break.
Sir Alex’s eagerness to select Rooney represents a remarkable turnaround for the England forward, who was dropped from the side to face Real Madrid in the Champions League, with his manager stating that he is the type of player who "needs games".