Rooney ready to face Chelsea as United's injury worries start to ease

 

Wayne Rooney is expected to be back in the Manchester United team for Sunday's match at Stamford Bridge which could extinguish Chelsea's frail title aspirations.

Rooney has not played since the 2-1 win at Arsenal on 22 January, during which he damaged his calf and ankle, and did not train at all last week, but with United's parlous injury situation improving – Nani, Ashley Young and Phil Jones may also be in contention to play in west London – it does seem that Rooney will be available to start.

Manchester City will seek to re-open a three-point lead on United when they entertain Fulham tomorrow evening and their captain, Vincent Kompany, has insisted that his side will not cave in under the pressure of United's relentless pursuit. "If there is one thing I know about our team it is that we are mentally strong," Kompany said. "We have been living with this pressure for the past three and a half years, and it has not affected us. If anything it will give us a boost to carry on and if people want to underestimate us, then please do so."

It remained unclear last night whether City's Carlos Tevez would be back in Manchester this week, with the relationship between club and player apparently as frosty as ever despite the club's desperate need for strikers. City's chief football operations officer, Brian Marwood, and Patrick Vieira are believed to have watched the club's striker John Guidetti score a hat-trick on loan for Feyenoord against Ajax last weekend but under the terms of the 19-year-old's loan deal he cannot be recalled.

The validity of new quotes attributed to Tevez, in which he describes City's unwillingness to accept offers for him as "strange", have been called into question. Tevez insists he has not spoken to journalists, though is quoted in a German magazine as saying that his retirement remains a possibility.

Kompany said the condition of pitches partly explained why City's football has been flowing far less than it was in the autumn. "Weather conditions are completely different. Everyone knows December, January and February are very different months, but we have done well," he said. "There is no shame in going under [1-0] at Everton [on Tuesday.] It wasn't enjoyable, but we believe we can go back to our best football and win the games that are left to play. We have to look forward, and looking forward I see good things for us, and that is what is important."

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