herald

Thursday 8 December 2016

Rooney to make welcome return

Van Gaal reveals captain fit again to face Southampton

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal will be looking for a reaction from his side at Southampton tomorrow after their midweek Champions League defeat away to PSV Eindhoven
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal will be looking for a reaction from his side at Southampton tomorrow after their midweek Champions League defeat away to PSV Eindhoven
Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney will return to face Southampton at St Mary’s tomorrow

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney has won his race to be fit for tomorrow's Premier League clash at Southampton.

The 29-year-old missed the games against Liverpool and PSV Eindhoven with a hamstring injury but is expected to be included in the squad for the trip to St Mary's.

Louis van Gaal also revealed Phil Jones, who is yet to feature this season after suffering a minor thrombosis, has returned to full training.

He said: "(Luke) Shaw's injury is a big loss but Rooney is fit to play and Jones has trained with the group.

"Wayne is fit to play. He's only had one week out.

"It was because we weren't taking any risks with him. Phil Jones has come back and trained with the group for the first time. He's not match fit but he's fit to train. Only Luke Shaw is injured."

Van Gaal also revealed Shaw could return to England on Saturday after undergoing surgery on his broken leg in Holland.

He added: "He knows that it is a long way to go for him. The operation was a good operation but nearly all the operations are always good. We have to wait and see how long it takes.

"My speaking about the subject gives him spirit. All the players, all of his colleagues, have called him and that's maybe not good. I texted him to say I'd call him later because rest is also important for the recovery.

"Of course, we have a fantastic doctor and also the medical department.

"We sent people to the Netherlands to take care of the travelling when he's coming back. We have to take care of that and also of his family because his family is there.

"That is also great support for him. The main thing is how the development of the rehabilitation shall go."

Van Gaal declined to speak at length about his relationship with the manager who will be in the home dugout tomorrow.

Van Gaal fell out with Ronald Koeman when they were both at Ajax in 2004.

Koeman, who was manager at the time, felt Van Gaal was too intrusive while technical director at the club.

Their relationship broke down and Van Gaal resigned a year after taking the post. The pair shook hands when their teams played each other last year, but it is clear that an uneasy relationship exists between the two Dutch managers.

The Saints boss said he was happy to invite Van Gaal into his office for a glass of wine after the match even though he claimed the United manager snubbed the same offer last season.

When asked about Koeman's offer, Van Gaal said: "Thank you for the invitation."

Tomorrow's fixture also represents the first return to St Mary's of midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin, who left Southampton for United for £25million in the summer having also pursued a transfer elsewhere a year earlier.

The two episodes will likely have done little to endear him to the club's fans, but Koeman said: "I hope the reaction to him is a positive one. He did everything for the club, he had a great time in Southampton, he was ready for the next step.

"I think we have to receive the player like we normally do with other players. How the fans react to Rickie Lambert is what you expect of fans receiving those who did everything for the club in a very positive way I hope.

"It's difficult always to say that it's not possible to leave the club, but to tell him twice is impossible. We had a very good relationship after the difficult summer that we had at the club, his reaction was fantastic, he had a big part in a big season last year and it's best for him and for the player, that's the important thing.

"He's now a player for Manchester United and I wish him the best, but not on Sunday."

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