Manchester United send Wayne Rooney for 'warm weather recuperation' with the striker now in race to be fit for Chelsea clash

England striker continues to recover from a groin injury that has had him sidelined since the New Year's Day defeat to Tottenham

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Manchester United manager David Moyes has sent Wayne Rooney away for a week’s warm weather training in an attempt to get him over a groin injury – a move which renders him a doubt for the club’s vital match at home to Chelsea next weekend.

With Robin van Persie also no closer to a return from a thigh injury, Moyes must seek to arrest a three-game losing streak minus his best two players. Rooney has started only five of the last ten games for United and has missed the Capital One Cup tie at Sunderland, the FA Cup Third Round tie at home to Swansea and the victory at Norwich in the past month – featuring in only the home defeat to Tottenham since the turn of the year.

Van Persie has not started a game for United since the home defeat to Newcastle United on December 7 and has started one of the 14 games United have played since the 1-0 home win over Arsenal on November 10.

United’s fitness coach Tony Strudwick will accompany Rooney on his trip, which Moyes described as “a sort of hot weather break.” The striker’s family has also gone away with him.

Moyes said: “His groin has not quite recovered yet. [This will] give him a bit of a break. I always hoped I would be able to do it at some point in the season but his groin is not as good as we hoped at this moment in time. Hopefully we will get him fit for Chelsea and we will see how he is.”

Of van Persie’s return, Moyes said it is “going to be a little while” and the Scot could give no time frame. He said: “We will do everything we can to get them back quickly. He has an injury [and] we have to hope he gets better.”

Despite the first three-game losing streak in 13 years, Moyes insisted this was not his toughest time in management.

“I think I have had equally challenging times at other points and they’re all the same,” he said. “Losing games is difficult. We have had a lot of attention; it was to be expected. In management you are going to lose games. I don’t know any manager who hasn’t lost games, you have to go through it at some point of your career, I’ve had it a few times and we are having a difficult time just now.”

Asked if confidence was a problem for his players, Moyes said: “Obviously if you are not winning, it can affect confidence and is a big part of football but prior to that we won six games and we were not talking about confidence in the game after that. You can lose games in football and we will try to get back to winning ways, try to get back and get those three points.”

He said there were plans to sit down with captain Nemanja Vidic to discuss a new contract but maintained that it would be difficult to get transfer targets this month.” We can go and get targets but it difficult to get them at this time. I’ve said that from day one. I never said we wouldn’t be getting them but it would be difficult.”