Slaven Bilic is hoping not to face Wayne Rooney when his West Ham welcome Manchester United in their FA Cup quarter-final replay.
Louis van Gaal’s job is hanging by a thread ahead of his side’s trip to Upton Park, meaning the Dutch manager might have to gamble on the fitness of Rooney.
The United captain made his return from a two-month lay-off with a knee injury when he played just over an hour for the club’s under-21 side at Old Trafford on Monday.
The FA Cup is United’s last chance of silverware this season, as the club face the prospect of failing to qualify for the Champions League for the second time in three years and it is reported that Van Gaal’s chances of seeing out the final year of his contract are riding on the result.
But still, Van Gaal could be unwilling to risk Rooney, not that Bilic is complaining.
“I would rather Rooney didn’t play. Seventy per cent, or 100 per cent fit, I would rather he watched the game,” he said.
“I’m a massive Rooney fan ever since he first stepped on to the pitch in an Everton shirt. I can’t talk about Jimmy Greaves, Bobby Charlton or Bobby Moore, but in my era Rooney is the best English player.
“When teams are on a good run they don’t change, but because United lost 3-0 at Tottenham on Sunday, we really don’t know who is going to play. Will it be Rooney from the start?
“It makes it harder for us. But we won’t change our team because of them.”
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