Andrew Cole expects Wayne Rooney to take out his pent-up frustration on Manchester City this weekend.
United captain Rooney is available for selection for the first time in five weeks following his three-match ban for a kick on West Ham’s Stewart Downing.
During his absence Rooney has cut a rather frustrated figure as he has watched on from the stands and Cole expects the 29-year-old will be fired up and desperate to make an impression in the Barclays Premier League encounter at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
“He has got to be raring to go,” the former United striker said.
“He is a professional footballer. When you miss games through injury or illness or suspension, you are going to be disappointed.
“I have no doubt he will be chomping at the bit now and ready to go having missed three games.
“It’s going to be a massive boost to have a player of his quality back.
“Hopefully we can go to Man City and get a positive result.”
Manager Louis van Gaal defended Rooney in the wake of his dismissal, which he received for kicking Downing from behind while the West Ham midfielder was mid-sprint.
But former captain Bryan Robson has warned Rooney he must not make a habit of getting sent off because of his new role of responsibility at the club.
“The one thing Wayne has to take on board is that he’s under even more scrutiny now. We saw him get sent off recently and, as a captain, you can’t be doing that,” Robson told United’s website.
“But Wayne knows that – I spoke with him at the training ground after the incident and he’s well aware of it.
“I think he’s done that because he’s keen to impress, desperate to show people he cares. I don’t think it’ll happen again.”
If – as expected – Rooney overcomes a minor foot injury, he will start at City, possibly alongside both Radamel Falcao and Robin van Persie.
The England captain bagged three goals in six matches before his suspension, so if he continues to scoring at that rate, he will soon overtake Cole and become the second-highest scorer in Barclays Premier League history.
Cole, who is 11 strikes ahead of Rooney in the all-time standings, is sure the former Everton frontman will surpass his total by the end of the season.
“Of course he can do that,” said Cole, who scored 187 Premier League goals - a feat only surpassed by Alan Shearer.
“If Wayne breaks it, it has been broken by a fantastic player.
“He has played at the highest level for 10 years now.”
Rooney’s experience of Manchester derbies – this will be his 22nd outing for United against City – will be vital in helping the club’s new faces know what awaits them at the Etihad.
Van Gaal, who is also facing City for the first time, could field up to six players who have not played in a Manchester derby before.
But Cole is sure the likes of Angel di Maria, Radamel Falcao and Ander Herrera will not freeze under pressure against a City team that will be itching to take all the points following a disappointing three-match winless streak.
“They are professional footballers. They have nothing to be scared of,” said the former United striker, who also spent a year at City before he retired.
“They are playing in front of 70,000 every other weekend and those players have played in big games like European matches and internationals before.
“They will not be thinking: ’I am going to be worried about playing in the Manchester derby.’ They will appreciate it.”
:: Andrew Cole was speaking at the unveiling of the ’Treble Collection’ and customised First Team squad watches by Bulova, Manchester United’s Official Timekeeping partner.