MANCHESTER, Sporting Alert – Manchester United will return to European football this week, but captain Wayne Rooney is almost certain to miss the Champions League opener against PSV Eindhoven on Tuesday.
Rooney missed the Red Devils’ Premier League win over rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford on Saturday with a hamstring injury he picked up in training on Friday and the striker looks well set to sit out successive games with the injury.
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal revealed that the injury to the club’s captain was not serious, but added that he and the medical staff would not take any risk that could prolong the problem.
“I don’t think he will play,” noted van Gaal on Saturday.
“He is injured so we have to take care of him. I think he is very important for us and I don’t want to take any risks, so that’s why he didn’t play against Liverpool.
“We have to wait and see if he can play against PSV because we still have days to go. I don’t think he will but maybe he shall play at Southampton.”
This means Manchester United will travel to the Netherlands for the Group B Champions League opening game without a recognized center forward, so Belgian targeted man Marouane Fellaini could be the experimental man again.
Fellaini picked up a rating of just 5.0 out of 10.0 filling in for Rooney, but although Anthony Martial came off the bench to score a stunning goal against Liverpool, van Gaal will continue to protect the 19-year-old and not throw him into the fire so quickly.
Van Gaal has warned Manchester United supporters not to get too carried away after the Frenchman scored on his debut, stating that he will have “ups and down” times that will only get better has he matures.
“He scored a fantastic goal. I knew he could dribble and had pace but his finish was fantastic too,” the Dutchman said.
“It shall give him a boost of course but you can not expect of his players to have consistency.
“At 19 or 20, it shall come with ups and down. He has to adapt to a new culture.”