Wayne Rooney has emerged as a major doubt for Manchester United’s clash with Liverpool on Saturday due to a hamstring injury, with Marouane Fellaini set to deputise for England’s record goalscorer.
Fresh off the back of his record goalscoring exploits for England, Rooney was conspicuous by his absence as United’s players met up at their hotel base on Friday night.
The 29-year-old is believed to have picked up a hamstring injury and will face a late fitness test on Saturday ahead of the game. With Anthony Martial yet to make his first appearance in a Manchester United shirt and James Wilson likely to be farmed out to the Championship, that leaves Belgium midfielder Fellaini – remarkably – as Rooney’s most likely replacement.
Ander Herrera is tipped to reprise his role behind the striker at Old Trafford, with both United and Liverpool looking to recover from demoralising defeats just before the international break.
It’s difficult to envisage a scenario whereby a lump of a midfield destroyer is seen as first-choice back-up to a deteriorating 29-year-old striker at a Champions League club, but it certainly seems the case at Old Trafford.
David de Gea – fresh from signing a new four-year deal at United – insists he’s ready to make his first appearance of the season in the game.
De Gea played in Spain’s 1-0 win over Macedonia on Tuesday and is now targeting a starting place against Liverpool this weekend.
“It is a perfect moment to come back,” De Gea told MUTV.
“We are at Old Trafford against Liverpool, one of the biggest games in the world and I know the fans will love it if we win the game.
“I trained really hard and I played with my national team and of course I feel ready and 100 per cent fit.
“[There was] lots of speculation this summer but I keep my hard work and now I am relaxed, I am happy here, now we have to look forward to this season, to play well, win the games and hopefully we can win a trophy,” he said.
“It was a different summer. I keep my focus, I keep calm and I keep my hard work. I feel really well. I would like to say thank you to them [the fans] for the support.”