In-form Hernandez could pose another problem for Rooney

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Sipping cocktails and basking in the Dubai sunshine after signing a long-term deal, Wayne Rooney appears to have not a care in the world.

But on his return to a wet, windy Manchester this weekend he will encounter a fresh problem – Javier Hernandez.

Rooney's absence has seen Hernandez step into his shoes, and, following late rescue acts against Stoke and Wolves, the Mexican has earned the acclaim that the England striker had become so accustomed to.

The struggles of Rooney may have dogged him from the World Cup into the new season – yesterday Sir Alex Ferguson suggested that his ankle injury may keep him out for longer than three weeks – but Hernandez has had no such issues adapting, forging a potent partnership with a reborn Dimitar Berbatov in the process.

Asked whether he had any intention of leaving out his new signing when Rooney eventually returns from injury, Ferguson said: "Of course it will be difficult. I'm not even suggesting he will be left out. He's keeping his place in the team because he deserves to keep his place in the team.

"We had a feeling he would break through, we had a good feeling about that. Therefore it gives you a problem, but the right kind of problem. But there is plenty of evidence the boy has something. He's young and he wants to learn. He comes from a good football pedigree and everything is in his favour."

Rooney may be 3,000 miles away, but the talk remains dominated by his contract. It is over a week since the striker's U-turn, but Ferguson said: "There have been plenty of issues over the years. You could say it was a big one last week. But only in the sense it was a top player. It's all in the past now.

"The future is exactly as it was a few weeks ago. No one has left the club, we have the same squad of players and we have issues with injuries; we're no different to everyone else."

The last time today's visitors, Tottenham, won at Old Trafford was a staggering 20 games ago – but Ferguson refused to show complacency. "We've seen a new Tottenham over the last couple of years and their progress has been excellent under Harry [Redknapp]," he said. "He's brought consistency. We expect a hard game, but it's our job to kick on now and start chasing Chelsea."