Rooney passed fit for Manchester derby; Falcao remains sidelined
Wayne Rooney has been passed fit for the Manchester derby, but Radamel Falcao remains out through injury.
Manager Louis van Gaal denied reports Rooney was suffering from a foot injury and insisted the Manchester United captain is ready to start at the Etihad Stadium following a three-match suspension.
But Falcao, who missed the last two games after receiving a kick in training, is still injured. The Colombian will therefore miss Sunday’s hotly-anticipated game against Manchester City.
Van Gaal dismissed reports that emerged earlier this week claiming Rooney was a doubt because he had been seen hobbling at a sponsor’s event at Old Trafford on Monday.
Van Gaal said: "Rooney was not injured. The media was writing that but he was never injured. Maybe his shoes were too tight, that is possible. But he was never injured and he shall play. He is my captain."
The news regarding Colombia striker Falcao was not so good, however.
"Falcao is still injured," Van Gaal added.
Not being able to call upon Falcao is a blow for Van Gaal, although Rooney’s return will provide the Dutchman with more firepower ahead of probably the biggest match of the season so far.
The United skipper has scored 11 goals against the Blues, the most notable of which came in February 2011 when he put away a spectacular overhead kick to seal a 2-1 win at Old Trafford.
"I have heard that also he has scored a lot of goals against Manchester City, the most of any player," said Van Gaal, whose claim is accurate.
"I said that to him to stimulate him but he doesn’t need that. I am very happy that he can play again and he shall play."
City have won five of their last six league meetings with United, but they go into Sunday’s game on a bad run of form.
Manuel Pellegrini’s team stretched their winless streak to three matches on Wednesday when they were knocked out of the Capital One Cup by Newcastle.
And you get the impression Van Gaal thinks City are there for the taking.
"It is not the greatest moment of Manchester City," he added. "What we have seen of Manchester City in the last matches was not so good. We have a good feeling about this match."
It will be the first time Van Gaal has been in the dugout for a Manchester derby and the Dutchman could field up to five derby debutants for the hotly-contested clash.
But he is sure they will all understand what the fixture means to the club after a pep talk from assistant manager Ryan Giggs this week.
"Ryan Giggs presented the analysis of Manchester City, and I felt more tension (about the derby) with him. It was good to see that," Van Gaal said.
"He knows it, he has the experience as a player and now maybe as an assistant manager."
Tensions have run high in the build up to the clash but Van Gaal insists his players must not be overcome by emotion on Sunday afternoon.
He added: "We don’t have to accelerate this feeling because it is football and you have to play the game, not only a game with emotion but also in a tactical way.
"For me, I have to analyse and prepare for the games in the same manner (as the other matches)."