Fergie brushes off Rooney issue
Sir Alex Ferguson has dodged a confrontation with Wayne Rooney - and turned his sights on renowned knee surgeon Dr Richard Steadman instead. As Ferguson again scrapped his general Friday press conference, only a very limited number of people got to ask for his assessment of Rooney's declaration this week that he has not been suffering from an ankle injury, which his manager cited as the reason for his omission against Valencia and Sunderland prior to the international break. And while Rooney's statement has been interpreted by most outsiders as a challenge to Ferguson's authority, the Red Devils chief certainly had no intention of being drawn into a wider conversation today. As Ferguson is scheduled to face the media on Tuesday before the Champions League encounter with Bursaspor, he will presumably expect more persistent questioning then. For now, he is dealing with the matter on his terms only. "It is water off a duck's back to me," Ferguson told Key103. "I don't know where all these things come from. He is always in the spotlight and being discussed by the press. It is important how you handle it in my experience. "But it just runs off me. It doesn't mean anything." Of more irritation was Steadman's declaration on Wednesday that Owen Hargreaves would make his comeback in tomorrow's Premier League clash with West Brom. Ferguson has always praised Steadman's ability at rescuing players whose careers appear to be in jeopardy. United were happy to let Steadman treat Hargreaves for an extended period after the operations on both knees in October 2008 that were geared towards some kind of a recovery from the tendinitis problem that has plagued his since before an £18million move from Bayern Munich three years ago. Ferguson even sent Hargreaves back to Steadman for more rehabilitation work this summer when the 29-year-old suffered a setback in pre-season training. However, as the midfielder approaches a comeback many view as his final chance of continuing his career, Ferguson has found it rather less welcome that Steadman's opinions have strayed away from medicine and to the football field. "We are having difficulty with the doctor in Colorado coming out with statements that are not accurate," said Ferguson. "It is not fair to the player for him to say Owen is going to be playing tomorrow. "It is ridiculous. I pick the team and I have been doing it for quite a while. "We have this small interference, which is causing some confusion. "Owen is not ready. He is out with a calf injury." Although Rooney's presence in Ferguson's team to face West Brom has been questioned, it really would be a provocative move to leave the England star out again, even if his recent poor form continued at Wembley on Tuesday. At the start of nine games in 29 days, Ryan Giggs is ready to return from a hamstring injury to give Ferguson a few more options, although a combination of the new Tuesday international dates and a larger than expected number of players in training over the past couple of weeks has provided United with some valuable preparation time. "It is unusual to have so many players during an international break but it is very welcome," said Ferguson. "Dimitar Berbatov has retired, Patrice Evra is still suspended by France. The Da Silva brothers were here and Gabriel Obertan, plus the older lads who have also retired, so we had quite a few. And with a Tuesday match as well it means we have an extra day to get the players prepared. Ferguson accepts the need to be prepared as well. Although United are defending a 100% home record, they remain under pressure because of their failure to win away from Old Trafford. Four straight draws has seen them slip five points adrift of leaders Chelsea and get leapfrogged by Manchester City, so a repeat of Arsenal's home defeat to Roberto Di Matteo's side last month simply cannot be tolerated. "You have to recognise that performance at the Emirates Stadium," said Ferguson. "To score three goals there tells you something. "This will be a tough game, make no mistake."
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