Wayne Rooney has provided an update on his recovery from knee ligament damage.
And it’s good news for Manchester United and England - the attacker expects to be back shortly after the upcoming international friendlies.
Roy Hodgson’s team take on Germany and the Netherlands towards the end of March and though Rooney will miss both games, he expects to have enough games in his belt to be fully fit to lead England at the European Championships in France.
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The 30-year-old hasn’t played since suffering an injury against Sunderland in February and United have stuttered in his absence.
But they will be without their captain for not much longer.
Rooney said, per the Telegraph: “I am hoping if I am back when I am expected to be back, depending on the two cups we are still in, then there could be 10 games left for United, plus the England games, so I don’t think that would be a worry.
“It is going as planned. It is going how we first thought. It is going well, so hopefully it won't be too long now.
“I don't know for definite but after the international break. Obviously I will miss the England games, but it shouldn't be too long after that.
“It is not too bad. We are being a bit cautious. It is a difficult one to try and push back. If I try and push and be involved now it could cause more damage. So we are being cautious. After the international break is a more realistic target.”
Rooney hit a purple patch before his injury, scoring seven goals in nine games (including the 2-1 defeat to Sunderland).
In his absence, Louis van Gaal’s team have seen their top four hopes fade, as well as their dream of winning the Europa League.
Rooney will hope United are still competing in the FA Cup when he returns to action. A 1-1 draw against West Ham means are in the semi-final draw but face a tricky replay at Upton Park.
However, it’s England who will be most pleased by the news. There were concerns that Rooney would miss the warm-up games but that he should be ready for the games against Turkey (May 22), Australia (May 27) and Portugal (June 2) is a boost to Hodgson.
The lengthy lay-off could in fact benefit England. It means Rooney won’t be burned out from completing a full season for his club and will be itching to end his season on a high.
THIS COULD BE ROONEY'S LAST EUROS
At 30, this could be Rooney’s last European Championships. In three previous tournaments he is yet to reach the semi-finals, and so will be eager to reach the final four.
Marcus Rashford has stepped up in Rooney’s absence and the skipper praised the 18-year-old’s efforts while admitting his spell on the sidelines has been frustrating.
He added: “It has been eight games I have missed and I didn’t realise it was that many. It has been frustrating.
“The youngsters have done great. With young players you never know but hopefully they will have a bright future at this club.”