Hernandez success no surprise to SAF

Javier Hernandez’s spell in the spotlight is set to continue with

Wayne Rooney facing a longer spell out than first thought. Rooney

is currently on holiday in Dubai after being given time off to rest

an injured ankle. The 25-year-old suffered the injury in training

last week during an extraordinary few days that started with him

expressing a desire to leave the club but ended with him signing a

five-year contract. Rooney was expected to be out of action for

three weeks but manager Sir Alex Ferguson today said he thought it

could be longer. That would almost certainly rule the England

striker out of the potentially explosive derby against Manchester

City at Eastlands on November 10. With Michael Owen also sidelined,

that could mean an extended chance for summer signing Hernandez,

who has impressed with four goals in his last four games. The

22-year-old Mexico international struck twice, including a late

winner, in last weekend’s crucial Premier League victory over Stoke

and followed that up with another decisive goal against Wolves in

the Carling Cup. Ferguson has been impressed by the way he has

settled since his move from Guadalajara but never had any doubts he

would succeed. The Scot said: “We are not surprised because we

identified a lot about him before we signed him. We did a lot of

work on him. “Seeing him in pre-season and training we thought he

would do well. “He is young and wants to learn and he comes from a

really good football pedigree. He speaks the language and that is

important. “Everything is in his favour. “We are all pleased.

Everyone is really excited to have him at the club. He has done

really well. “His winning goal on Tuesday demonstrated again that

he is a very good finisher.” Ferguson needs Hernandez to maintain

his current form, and Dimitar Berbatov to reproduce his

performances of the early campaign, to keep to spotlight away from

Rooney’s lack of goals. Rooney had struggled for form all season

before getting injured, netting just once for United in the first

two months of the campaign. When asked today at a press conference

if Rooney was still on target to return in line with the initial

three-week prognosis, Ferguson said: “I think it may be longer.” He

added: “There is no recovery – it is just rest. “Before he went

away we did his remedial in terms of what we could do at the time.

Thereafter, rest – we’re quite happy with that.” Rooney’s position

at United dominated the headlines throughout last week but the team

started to put the issue behind them with their hard-fought 2-1 win

at Stoke. Ferguson says it is no longer an issue as United prepare

to host fellow Champions League challengers Tottenham at Old

Trafford tomorrow. “The players are focused,” Ferguson said. “That

is the important thing. “It was a good result for us on Sunday, a

strong result in the sense of we know how difficult it is to go to

Stoke. “The good part for me was coming back from losing a goal.

Given our record this year of losing late goals, it could have been

a killer for us. “But they galvanised themselves really well. “They

played their best football in that five-minute period after they

scored and then after our second goal. It was a good lift for

everyone.” Ferguson is now expecting a tough battle with Harry

Redknapp’s Spurs, who, after finishing fourth last season to

qualify for Europe’s elite competition, are again riding high in

fifth. Spurs are just two points behind third-placed United and

boast two of the competition’s most in-form attacking players in

Gareth Bale and Rafael van der Vaart. Ferguson said: “We have

certainly seen a new Tottenham over the last couple of years. “I

think their progress has been excellent under Harry. “He has

brought a consistency to them and I think the area which is new for

him is coping with the Premier League and a European league. “They

have got a massive game on Tuesday (against Inter Milan) but they

have been to Milan and did very well to recover with 10 men. “These

are interesting times for them, so we expect a hard game tomorrow.”

Owen is likely to be out for another four to five weeks after

suffering a hamstring injury in training just as he was poised to

return from a groin problem. Veteran Ryan Giggs is still out with a

hamstring injury but should return to training on Monday.