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Rooney urges Man Utd to seize league initiative

SoccerNews in English Premier League 14 Jan 2009

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Wayne Rooney has urged reigning champions Manchester United to take full advantage of their games in hand and leave themselves looking down on the rest of the Premier League once again.

United can hit the top of the table, for a brief spell at least, should they claim maximum points from their two games in hand, starting with Wednesday’s visit of Wigan Athletic to Old Trafford.

England striker Rooney has no intentions of basking in the glow of Sunday’s thumping win over title rivals Chelsea and is keen to look forward instead of back.

Rooney insists all United are bothered about is reaching the Premier League summit as quickly as possible to increase the pressure on current leaders Liverpool, who have still to visit Old Trafford this season.

“It’s down to us,” he said. “If we win our two games we’ll be top of the league.

“That might only last until Liverpool play Everton on the Monday but on Saturday night (after United face Bolton) we want to look at the table and see ourselves at the top.

“The win against Chelsea was very important. After watching Liverpool (draw 0-0 at Stoke) we needed to take advantage and get the win.

“We’ve done that now so come Saturday, if we do our job right and win our two games, then we’ll be top.”

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is expected to be without influential defender Rio Ferdinand once again due to back trouble.

Ferdinand has been suffering spasms and was forced to miss his side’s win over Chelsea before being sent for further scans on the problem.

United are still awaiting the results and Ferguson admits his absence is a big blow, although he has been full of praise for the England international’s replacement at the heart of United’s defence, Jonny Evans.

Evans, who is just 21, appears to be a star in the making and has deputised without putting a foot wrong.

Ferguson said: “He’s been marvellous. For a young boy, 21 only a week ago, he was absolutely superb (against Chelsea).

“His reading of the game, his use of the ball, he was a giant like many of our players. I was very pleased for the boy.”

Wigan manager Steve Bruce takes his in-form side to Old Trafford on the back of an incredible run of six wins in the last seven league games, but is more concerned with the future of Emile Heskey.

The England striker has been linked with moves to Liverpool and Aston Villa but Bruce has warned him that leaving the JJB Stadium could ruin his hopes of being involved in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Former United centre-half Bruce said: “Emile knows that we play to his strengths and that has helped him get himself back into the England team.

“It’s no secret that his return to the international scene is a result of what he has done for us.

“He is enjoying it, so what he has to ask himself is, if he wants to go to the World Cup as England’s centre-forward, then where does he need to be to give him his best chance of doing that?

“At his age, Emile needs to be playing every week and he will do that here. But the big clubs like to change things around and he knows that.

“So when the season ends, I’m sure that is something he will think about when he comes to make up his mind.”

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