Coyle hopes United will travel without Rooney

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The Independent Football

The Bolton manager Owen Coyle is keeping his fingers crossed that rumours of Wayne Rooney's knee injury have not been exaggerated – for this weekend only.

It has been suggested that Manchester United's 33-goal striker will be rested for the short trip to the Reebok Stadium on Saturday.

With United at Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday and at home to Chelsea the following Saturday, manager Sir Alex Ferguson may prefer to keep Rooney fresh.

If so, it will be music to Coyle's ears.

"If you're asking me whether I am glad Wayne Rooney might not be in the team, then of course I am. I'd rather not face him," Coyle said. "Along with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi he's one of the top three players in the whole world at the moment.

"So any manager would be glad of the chance not to face him, if indeed that proves to be the case. But United have a team full of quality international players, so we know we'll have to be at our very best, no matter what happens."

Coyle, though, is still hoping the 24-year-old goes on to prove himself on the biggest stage of all in this summer's World Cup in South Africa.

"England are very fortunate to have someone of Wayne's stature and I'm sure he will go on to do very well in the World Cup," Coyle told Bolton News. He has been in terrific form this season, so if he can take that into the summer then I am sure he will do an excellent job for his country."

Defender Gary Cahill, meanwhile, has declared himself ready for a return to action. On Saturday, he could make his first senior appearance since 30 January after spending the last two months recovering from a blood clot in his arm which led to surgery to remove a section of a rib.

"It came as a total shock to me and, at first, I feared the worst and thought it was going to be long term," said Cahill. "But I've come back a lot earlier and quicker than some people thought and it's good to be back."

After coming through 90 minutes in the reserves on Monday, Cahill added: "I've proved I'm fit to play 90 minutes and that was a big thing, so this weekend I'm available for selection."