A new dad and captain of his country, Wayne Rooney returns to domestic duty today after being told he is behind at least five other players in Sir Alex Ferguson's pecking order for the Manchester United armband.
Rooney, 24, led England in their 1-0 defeat by Brazil last weekend but can forget about enjoying the same role with his club for some time. Though he retains a combustible streak that will not be far below the surface against his former employers Everton at Old Trafford this evening, Rooney has shown greater control over the last year or so, but he has some way to go before Ferguson considers him as a United captain. Confirmation came on the opening weekend of the season, when Ferguson was without Rio Ferdinand, Gary Neville, Edwin van der Sar and Ryan Giggs, with John O'Shea the captain.
"He's not in my thinking to be captain at the moment," said Ferguson, who believes Rooney could grow into the role. "He's young and I prefer older players and I prefer midfield players or centre-back, unless you have someone like Eric Cantona who would be an inspiration to the younger players, which he was. You can see the qualities that Wayne would bring to the captaincy – his determination, hunger, desire to do well. He always tries, no matter how the team is playing. He always gives 100 per cent and these are wonderful qualities for a captain."
United are hopeful they have finally got to the root of Ferdinand's injury problems and expect the defender to be out for another three weeks with a back problem, while Ferguson maintains that Chelsea's five-point lead is not a big concern.