Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney has returned to training at the club’s Carrington base, but he is rated just 50/50 to be fit for the Manchester derby in 10 days’ time, ruling him out of this weekend’s match against Crystal Palace.
United face their fierce rivals Manchester City at the Etihad on September 22, but Rooney has only just started training by himself again under the guidance of the club’s physios, having spent the international break on holiday with his family after being ruled out of action due to a nasty cut on his forehead.
Rooney caught a stray Phil Jones boot to the head while training with the United squad, just days before England embarked on their two World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine.
The gash required 10 stitches to close up, with Rooney himself posting a picture on his Facebook account to reveal the ghastly cut that has seen him also miss the Premier League defeat to Liverpool.
Manager David Moyes has already accepted that he will be without Rooney for Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off, meaning he could deploy Danny Welbeck behind striker Robin van Persie once more, or recall out-of-favour Japanese midfielder Shinji Kagawa, who has yet to feature in the Premier League under Moyes, and played for just seven minutes in the season-opening Community Shield.
Kagawa scored for his country in the 3-1 friendly victory over Ghana on Tuesday, and he may be in-line for a recall despite not even making the bench in their last fixture at Anfield.
A more likely option though is new signing Marouane Fellaini, who completed his £27.5m move to Old Trafford on transfer deadline day after handing in a transfer request with Everton.
Rooney is also likely to miss Tuesday’s Champions League fixture against Bayer Leverkusen, and if he fails to recover in time for the weekend tie with City, his participation against Liverpool in the Capital One Cup would also be unlikely.
Rooney has had a limited start to this campaign, having come on as a substitute in their opening Premier League match against Swansea and starting the fixture against Chelsea where he was named man-of-the-match.