I hope Rooney plays when we win derby, says Mancini

City manager keen to face full-strength United so he can claim victory on merit
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The Independent Football

Roberto Mancini wants Wayne Rooney to face his Manchester City side at Eastlands on Saturday – so there will be no excuses from Manchester United if they lose the derby.

Rooney has been an influential figure for the faltering champions this season, scoring 34 goals in all competitions. However he has been troubled by an ankle injury and sat out the goalless draw against Blackburn on Sunday. The problem first occurred in the Champions League quarter-final first leg against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena last month, when the striker was forced to limp off .

United would appear to need Rooney more than ever as Chelsea's 1-0 victory against Bolton at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night took them four points clear of Sir Alex Ferguson's side with only four games remaining in the campaign.

City have already beaten United at home this season with Rooney playing – in the Carling Cup semi-final first leg – and Italian manager Mancini does not see why his team cannot repeat that feat again.

"I think it is better if Rooney plays on Saturday," he told the official Manchester City website. "He is a fantastic player and has had an amazing season.

"He will be a danger, of course, but United have many fine players in their team – but we have beaten them once at home already and can do it again.

"I think it is best if both teams are full strength and then the side who takes the three points can truly say the best team won and there is no reason that cannot be us."

Mancini enjoys derby days and was in charge of numerous Milan battles and believes there are many similarities between the two big city clashes. "Supporters live for these games and look forward to them more than any other match each year," he said. "It is about passion and desire and results do not always go to form.

"Of course, this isn't just a game about local pride, we want to finish in fourth place and every match from now until the last will be just as important.

"We need our fans to keep doing what they do each week and get right behind the team from the first minute to the last. They can inspire us to even greater heights and they have a huge role to play against United."

Manchester United winger Gabriel Obertan is intent on taking part in the run-in after scoring twice in successive games for the reserves. Obertan, who arrived from Bordeaux in the summer, has been out of the first-team picture following the defeat by Everton in February.

However the 21-year-old believes his game is improving and he found the target for the reserves against Liverpool last night with manager Sir Alex Ferguson looking on.

Obertan told MUTV: "It is good for the confidence to score some goals and good when the manager is watching the game.

"There are four matches left in the Premier League so it would be nice to be able to have a few minutes on the pitch. It's been a bit difficult the last couple of months but I've worked hard with the reserves and in training, and it is paying off."