Sir Alex Ferguson has left the door open for a sensational Champions League return for Wayne Rooney at Old Trafford on Wednesday night.
Although the Manchester United boss claimed last Friday that the 34-goal striker would be missing for between two to four weeks with the ankle injury he suffered in the last minute of the first leg defeat to Bayern Munich last Tuesday, rumours surfaced pretty quickly that Rooney could be in action far quicker than that.
"He has no chance," said Ferguson, who at first rejected the notion of an appearance in the return match. "We have made some good progress with the lad and the medical team have done fantastic. But I am not prepared to take a risk on a player who is not 100% fit. They are looking more at the Manchester City game, maybe Blackburn as a substitute. That is possible. But it is an ankle injury, the same as any other. He is no different to anyone else."
But when asked directly whether Rooney could be on the bench, Ferguson replied: "I don't think so, although he will maybe talk me into it. It is a difficult one."
At the very least, the debate surrounding Rooney will have created doubt in the mind of Bayern coach Louis van Gaal about the forward's availability. It cannot be discounted either that Ferguson would find some benefit in having an unfit Rooney on the bench, knowing what an effect his presence would have on the home supporters, who the Scot already acknowledges could play a huge part in the outcome.
"Old Trafford has got that suction that brings the ball towards the goal when we are really in full flow and the crowd are really up for it," he said.
"It is an amazing feeling and there are too many instances to mention, but if you look at these moments when we decide games in the last 15 minutes, it is not always entirely down to the players. It is the fans who make it happen.
"Hopefully that is the case on Wednesday night."
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