Rooney may figure in Aviva showpiece

WAYNE ROONEY is in line to face an Airtricity League XI in the first football match at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on August 4.

Manager Alex Ferguson has confirmed Rooney and the other World Cup players could come into consideration for the friendly, even though they are not due to return to training until Wednesday.

He said: “They have a chance of playing in that. It depends on their progress when they come back on July 28.”

Rooney endured a disappointing World Cup with England, exiting the tournament at the last 16 stage following the 4-1 defeat by Germany.

It was an unexpected setback for the player given he had scored 34 goals in all competitions for United last season.

Apart from Rooney, Michael Carrick, Patrice Evra, Park Ji-sung and Nemanja Vidic could all come into contention for the showpiece match in Dublin.

United have a number of injuries with Rio Ferdinand, Gary Neville, Michael Owen, Antonio Valencia, Owen Hargreaves and Anderson all absent from the summer tour.

Meanwhile Ferguson said he “could not clarify” Vidic’s future with the Serbian defender linked to a move away from Old Trafford.

When pressed on whether Vidic would be a Manchester United player next season, Ferguson responded: “I believe so.”

The United boss also revealed his intention to send striker Danny Welbeck and midfielder Tom Cleverley on loan to Barclays Premier League clubs in the coming season.

Welbeck, 19, set up the winner for Gabriel Obertan in the 1-0 tour victory against Philadelphia Union at Lincoln Financial Field on Wednesday night.

Cleverley, who is a year older, was in from the start after scoring in the defeat of Celtic in Toronto last Friday.

Ferguson believes both players have bright futures but need regular football. Both went out on loan to second-tier clubs last season, Welbeck to Preston and Cleverley to Watford, and both were sidelined with knee injuries.

Ferguson revealed that Welbeck – a target for Sunderland – is going through a growth spurt.

He said: “This is going to be a big season for Danny because for the last three years he has not had a consistent run of games.

“I sent him to Preston as you know last year. He got an injury almost right away. He only played five games and ended up having an operation on his knee. One of the things about Danny that may have caused the injury is that he is still growing. He has a weakness in his legs with the speed he is growing.

“He is about 6ft 2ins and a bit now. He has sprouted up in the last year and a half. So he needs consistent football. He needs to play all the time and that is one of the reasons we are considering sending him on loan again to a Premier League team.”

Cleverley was named Watford’s player of the year after a loan spell at Leicester.

Ferguson said: “Tom is a very talented boy. He is going to be a very good footballer. We are also considering putting him on loan to a Premier League team.

“He improved tremendously in his spell at Watford last year. He got an unfortunate injury towards the end of last season and was out for a long time. “He has just come back and can play anywhere in midfield, which is always an advantage.”

Cleverley is thrilled to playing alongside Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs and believes the two veterans can only help his development. He said: “Last year was a big season for me and I hope this one will be even bigger. This time I have got to prove myself in the Premier League like I have done in the Championship and League One. That is the challenge for me.

“Playing for United and alongside someone like Scholesy is what every young lad dreams of. He is a great mentor for me – I look to him every day in training and he is definitely someone I can learn a lot from.

“The likes of Scholesy and Giggsy always have a picture in their heads about what they want to do with the ball and their first time passing is second to none. The way they go about training and matches means they are two of the best in the world to learn from.’’


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