Rooney hopes quick apology will free him to face City at Wembley

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The Independent Football

The Football Association will confirm whether Wayne Rooney will be free to face Manchester City in this month's FA Cup semi-final at 10am this morning.

Rooney is challenging his two-match ban for using offensive, insulting and/or abusive language at West Ham on Saturday, believing it to be too excessive for the crime he committed.

As it presently stands, the Manchester United forward will miss Saturday's Premier League encounter with Fulham and the game with City at Wembley on 16 April. A conclusion was reached later yesterday and relayed to the Old Trafford club.

However, the FA wanted to be sympathetic about the timing of any public release, which would have come just a couple of hours before United tackled Chelsea in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final at Stamford Bridge last night. After consultation between both parties, it has been agreed the official media announcement would not be made until this morning.

Rooney, whom it has been revealed did not have his lucrative sponsorship contract with Coca-Cola renewed last year, is risking his ban being increased. However, United are convinced the suspension should be cut by a three-man disciplinary panel and have the support of the Professional Footballers' Association.

"If he is unsuccessful in his appeal the commission could look on the case as not being truly exceptional," said PFA deputy chief executive John Bramhall. "But from my experience, the circumstances surrounding his case are unprecedented and therefore you would say it was truly exceptional."

It is believed Rooney's argument centres around the swiftness of his apology, which came within hours of the final whistle at Upton Park, and the fact his comments were not directed at anyone in particular. When Didier Drogba received a five-match ban from Uefa for expressing his displeasure into a TV camera after his side's Champions League semi-final defeat by Barcelona two years ago, it was clear his words were aimed at the referee, this is not the case with Rooney.

On the PFA's own website, it was claimed the "unprecedented" charge would set a "dangerous precedent", with chairman Gordon Taylor adding: "Whilst the use of foul and abusive language is not condoned, there is an acceptance by all parties within the game that 'industrial language' is commonly used. It becomes an issue when directed towards match officials.

"However, when used in a spontaneous way in celebration or frustration then it is not normally expected to merit a sanction. If sanctions are to be imposed then this has to be done in a balanced and consistent manner, and participants made aware of this fundamental change in approach."

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