Rooney could make early return

Wayne Rooney could be back in the Manchester United side earlier than expected.

The England striker is in line to face an Aircity League XI in the first football match at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on August 4.

Manager Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed Rooney and the other World Cup players could come into consideration for the friendly, even though they are not due to return to training until Wednesday.

He said: "They have a chance of playing in that. It depends on their progress when they come back on July 28."

Rooney endured a disappointing World Cup with England, exiting the tournament at the last 16 stage following the 4-1 defeat by Germany.

It was an unexpected setback for the player given he had scored 34 goals in all competitions for United last season. Apart from Rooney, Michael Carrick, Patrice Evra, Park Ji-sung and Nemanja Vidic could all come into contention for the showpiece match in Dublin.

United have a number of injuries with Rio Ferdinand, Gary Neville, Michael Owen, Antonio Valencia, Owen Hargreaves and Anderson all absent from the summer tour.

Meanwhile Ferguson said he "could not clarify" Vidic's future with the Serbian defender linked to a move away from Old Trafford.

When pressed on whether Vidic would be a Manchester United player next season, Ferguson responded: "I believe so."

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