Rooney could return to action

BY foxsports • September 25, 2012

Manchester United take their first tentative steps towards another trophy at Old Trafford on Wednesday with Sir Alex Ferguson pondering whether to introduce a couple of significant faces to his team to play Newcastle in the Capital One Cup.

In rejecting the potential for Wayne Rooney to feature in last weekend's emotional trip to Liverpool, Ferguson vaguely offered "next week" as a possibility for the striker's return from a gashed thigh.

And Ferguson has previously used the fourth competition on his list of seasonal priorities for star men to hit the comeback trail, having done so with Cristiano Ronaldo, who made his first start of the 2008-09 campaign against Middlesbrough after recovering from ankle surgery.

Although Tottenham, Cluj and a Premier League trip to Newcastle are also to come before the next international break, as Rooney has returned to training, a place on the bench on Wednesday cannot entirely be ruled out, particularly as the striker has such a good record against the Magpies.

Rooney will want to make an impact when he does eventually return, having failed to shine in the opening weekend defeat to former club Everton, which resulted in him being dropped against Fulham five days later.

That was the game in which the 26-year-old sustained the deep gash to his thigh that has ruled him out for a month so far, and keen to make up for lost time in his battle for a first-team berth.

Whilst Rooney's participation cannot be taken for granted, it appears to be the perfect opportunity for 18-year-old new-boy Angelo Henriquez.

Delays in securing Henriquez's international clearance following his arrival from Chile meant that Ferguson was unwilling to register the teenager in his Champions League squad.

Having taken the decision not to immediately send Henriquez back to South America as expected, the newly-rebranded League Cup offers the most obvious opportunity for first-team action and it would be a surprise if he was not involved at some stage.

Nick Powell, Alex Buttner and Michael Keane are others who can expect to feature, whilst even more significant will be Darren Fletcher's anticipated presence in the United starting line-up.

Providing Fletcher makes it, the Scotland skipper would be making another major step forward in his battle to combat a chronic bowel complaint, made public in December but which has troubled him since March 2011.

Plenty of changes are envisaged, although as Jonny Evans points out, that is no barrier to success, having been part of the team that reached successive League Cup finals in 2009 and 2010.

"We won it two years in a row by the manager giving younger players a chance," said the Northern Ireland defender.

"It was the first trophy I had won with the club.

"He stuck with the players that time. It is a question of getting over the first couple of games. Before you know it you are playing to get in a semi-final.

"That ups the ante and gets you on the ball."

And Evans likes the look of England Under-19 international defender Keane, twin brother of another highly-rated academy graduate Will, who is presently sidelined with a long-term knee injury.

"I have been very impressed with Michael," said Evans.

"Over the past couple of years his brother has been getting more of the headlines.

"But I have been really impressed with Michael when he has stepped up into training with us. I can see him getting a bit of a run out if things go well."

As a former Sunderland player, any meeting with Newcastle has added interest for Evans, although surprisingly he has not played against them that many times.

"It is weird," he said.

"I missed the derby and Newcastle is a ground I have never played at.

"They had a great season last season and have had quite a good start this time.

"They are a strong physical team and I am sure they will be putting out their best side."

Whether Evans is involved is another matter.

He limped away from Anfield on Sunday, leaving him fearing another lay-off after a summer ankle operation took longer to recover from than he expected.

"It was frustrating," said Evans.

"There were a few setbacks along the way and I am playing catch-up in terms of pre-season.

"It will probably take me a bit longer adjusting to training.

"You think you are not too far away until you have a few sessions with the first-team. Then you really feel it in your lungs."