Alex Ferguson insists he has no concerns about throwing Wayne Rooney back into the Manchester United side for Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Scottish champions Rangers.
Ferguson left Rooney out of his squad for the Premier League game at Everton on Saturday amid lurid allegations that the England international frequented prostitutes while his wife Coleen was pregnant with their first child.
There have been reports that Ferguson excluded Rooney as a punishment over the stories about his personal life.
But the United manager claimed that he wanted to spare Rooney the “terrible abuse” he receives when he plays against his former club Everton.
Despite United throwing away two goals in stoppage-time to slip to a 3-3 draw at Goodison Park, Ferguson said he had no regrets about leaving Rooney at home.
And he maintains he has no worries about restoring him to his starting line-up for the potentially explosive ‘Battle of Britain’ showdown against Rangers at Old Trafford.
“I have no concerns about playing him at all,” Ferguson said at his pre-match press conference on Tuesday.
“He will always prove his worth, he is a terrific player. His performance, scoring for England was as good a boost to him as anything and we expect a good performance from him on Tuesday. We look forward to that.
“I don’t know if the situation will inspire him. He has a lot of experience behind him in these situations.
“He will be looking forward to it. All our players look forward to European games. They are wonderful occasions.”
Asked to explain Rooney’s omission at the weekend, Ferguson said: “I am not clearing up. I left him out for the reasons I said on Saturday. I am not going beyond that.
“I told the TV interviewer on Saturday why I left him out. I was not going to subject him to that nonsense at that ground. It was a benefit to our team. I have no regrets at all. I did the right thing.”
Rangers defender David Weir played with Rooney at Everton and is sure that the striker will be able to handle any abuse that comes his way.
Weir is now 40 and was at Goodison Park when Rooney emerged as a 16-year-old, not that he feels that experience will be of much benefit at Old Trafford.
The centre-back said: “I remember him breaking into the team at Everton, coming into the team as a 16-year-old, getting on the scene at Everton and taking to it like a duck to water.
“He scored some great goals and scored that famous one against Arsenal announcing himself on the scene.
“He’s gone from strength to strength since then and he was well-liked and everyone loved him there and it’s great to see him doing so well.
“But I wouldn’t say I’m looking forward to playing against him! I’d rather be playing with him but it’ll be nice to see him.
“I’m sure he will thrive in the spotlight. Wayne Rooney the football player is all we’re interested in and he’s one of the best in the world so I don’t think he’ll need any extra encouragement.”
Rangers manager Walter Smith was in charge at Everton when Rooney was on the verge of breaking into the first team but was not allowed to pick the striker as he was under 16.
Smith also expects Rooney to be unaffected by the huge focus on him.
He said: “I don’t think it’ll work to our advantage. Wayne Rooney plays for Manchester United and our job is to overcome that and that’s what we have to do.
“He was an outstanding young player, as a youngster coming through he was probably the best I’ve seen in my career.”
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