Sir Alex Ferguson believes Wayne Rooney's thigh injury could be "a blessing" as the striker can now work on his fitness. Ferguson said the 26-year-old, who is out for four weeks, was dropped for last Saturday's 3-2 win over Fulham because the manager could not select him and Robin van Persie, who was also not match fit.
Ferguson said: "The injury is maybe a blessing because he can concentrate on his fitness now in the gymnasium in particular. He should be available for selection [after four weeks] because he will be able to train. He'll do gym work, he was in the gym yesterday and he will be able to continue that. The minute he can start running that will help. It's a bad gash but he was treated really quickly and we don't expect any complications."
Rooney being only a substitute against Fulham led to speculation of a rift with his manager but Ferguson said: "He said himself he needs a few games and I wanted to play Van Persie at the start at Old Trafford. I knew he wasn't 100% fit either. I couldn't really start the two of them.
"It wasn't an easy choice, simply because you're leaving out a really good player and you're leaving out a player who can get you goals. His scoring performance over the last few years has improved each year. It's getting better every year."
United face Galatasaray, CFR Cluj and Braga in what appears one of the easier Champions League groups.
"The European Cup draw could have been worse," Ferguson said. "There are some games that we have a bit of travelling to do. We have been to Turkey a few times and you are guaranteed an incredible atmosphere. Our first foray into the Champions League was at Galatasaray and that was an absolute nightmare. Romania [for Cluj] is a fair trip."
Ferguson is determined to guard against United being eliminated before Christmas. "Unlike last year we won't be taking any risks," he said. "We have often used the group stage as an exercise to give experience to young players, especially once we qualify, but after last year we have to make sure we qualify first."
Ferguson is upset that the Football Association revealed Ashley Young has a knee injury, which forces him to miss Sunday trip to Southampton, after Roy Hodgson omitted him from his England squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine.
"It was nice of the FA to let everyone know that Ashley Young is injured," he said. "There is no point giving them any information now. We have a game on Sunday and why should we alert our opponents who is fit and who is not fit. It won't happen again.
"He's out, he got a knee injury last week, although it's not serious. Obviously he will be ready in a couple of weeks' time [after the international break]."
Jonny Evans is fit to start at Southampton, though Ferguson is still missing Chris Smalling, Rio Ferdinand and Phil Jones. "On the centre-back front, which is really my main concern at the moment, Jonny Evans played Wednesday in the reserves and came through fine," he said. "He is certainly the strongest option we've got. Phil Jones is back doing some training but not ready yet. RioFerdinand's in the same boat. At least we have one centre-back available."
Darren Fletcher played alongside Evans on Wednesday but Ferguson is less sure when the midfielder may return. He has been suffering from a chronic bowel complaint and the manager said of his chances of being in his Champions League squad: "We haven't finalised that yet. We're looking at that but there are a few players we don't need to register because of the time they spent with us as an academy player so we've got that advantage. There are 25 players that have to be registered and he comes into that quite easily without leaving others out.
"The first thing to mention is he has put weight back on now, he's back to his normal weight from two to three years ago. He's training well every day. He played the other night and did really well but I don't know where he's at, to be honest. With the condition he has, and has to deal with, it's wait and see. If he keeps doing as well as he's doing then he will come into contention because he's a fantastic player."
Ferguson also said that Nani, who did not make the match-day 17 for Fulham, is in the squad for the Southampton game
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