Sir Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager, has confirmed that Wayne Rooney will be among a trio of World Cup players on show at Macclesfield tonight.
Rooney has been pestering Ferguson for a game since returning to training with Manchester United last week. His manager will finally give in to the England striker's request at Moss Rose, ensuring the impoverished League Two side benefit from what should be a capacity crowd.
Rooney will be joined by Rio Ferdinand and Edwin van der Sar at Macclesfield as United's pre-season preparations step up a notch following their 2-1 defeat at Preston on Saturday.
The striker is also due to finally meet up with Cristiano Ronaldo again, with the Portugal winger expected back at Carrington for training for the first time since the World Cup altercation with his United team-mate.
With Michael Carrick set to complete his medical as well, Ferguson will doubtless be hoping for a return to less turbulent times at Old Trafford after a difficult summer which started with the row over Rooney's readiness to play for England and continued through to Ruud van Nistelrooy's departure for Real Madrid on Friday.
However, judging by the way a contingent of United fans bellowed Van Nistelrooy's name and chanted anti-Malcolm Glazer songs during the defeat at Preston, it appears choppy waters still lie ahead. Certainly, the claim of the director Bryan Glazer that United supporters have "accepted" his family as the club's owners because "we haven't turned the place upside down" appears optimistic.
Ferguson maintains that his current squad needs only minor tweaking, with Carrick unlikely to be the last new face before the new campaign opens against Fulham on 20 August.
"We have targeted several players but, in my experience, these things take time," Ferguson said. "But Michael will have his medical on Monday and then, hopefully, we will be able to conclude that deal."
Carrick's United debut will probably come in the Amsterdam tournament at the weekend.
With Liam Miller and Kieran Richardson the only internationals in their starting line-up at Deepdale, United were mostly up against it facing a Preston side who entertain Sheffield Wednesday in their Championship opening match on Saturday.
It was a former United player who did the damage, Danny Pugh opening the scoring after three minutes. He then squared to Simon Whaley for Preston's second before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer celebrated the 10th anniversary of his arrival at Old Trafford with a late consolation from the spot.
"Ten years is a long time to spend at a club like United and it has gone very quickly indeed," the striker said. "I didn't know until someone told me earlier this week but, when you think about it, I was twice the age of a few of my team-mates."Reuse content