Wayne Rooney has been sent home from Manchester United's four-game tour of Asia and Australia with a hamstring injury that the club say will rule him out for a month.
The 27-year-old's future remains unresolved with Chelsea still determined to push United all the way to sign the player by the end of August. The current injury would take Rooney out of action until after the Community Shield game against Wigan on 11 August and would most likely rule him out of England's friendly against Scotland three days' later.
Nevertheless, Chelsea have made him their priority with a view to moving on Fernando Torres or Demba Ba if they can get the United striker. Sir Alex Ferguson's claim that the player has asked for a transfer before the end of the season is still an issue of contention between the player and the club with the latter adamant that Rooney is not for sale.
In the meantime, Rooney's former team-mate, and current England coach Gary Neville believes that the United fans will be prepared to back the striker next season, if he stays, in spite of the uncertainty around his intentions.
Neville said: “The fans have been through this before … and you will have been through it in your workplace. It is not unusual in a ten to 15 year period if you go through a long career that you have moments of doubt or feel 'I might want to work elsewhere' … but then things settle down a bit.
”In football everything is huge news particularly around Wayne and Manchester United. It will unfold in these next few weeks. I think the fans will be fine with him. He has been too good a player, and a great player for Manchester United. The fans accept that.
“Obviously they want players to be committed to the club and the one thing about Wayne Rooney is that wherever he plays his football, and whatever is going on, he is always 100 per cent committed to what he does.”
“The fans will basically get behind the players on the pitch. In 26 years I have not seen a Manchester United player treated badly by the fans. They love their players, particularly the ones who have served them well and Wayne can certainly put himself into that category so I have no doubts on that score.”
Neville said he was “hopeful” of Rooney staying at the club. “I think Wayne Rooney and Manchester United go together. I am aware of how big the football club is. The fact that you can achieve all your ambitions there. But Wayne is ambitious himself. He has to make his own mind up. The club will have a part to play in that. One thing about United, they never panic in situations, they always do things in a controlled manner.
”Although there have been rumblings about Wayne he has come back into pre-season without much of a fuss. I think it'll unfold in the next few weeks. When I was a player I never knew exactly what was happening, who was going to leave, who was going to be signed … I'm sure David Moyes will be exactly the same.“