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Manchester United hold off Wayne RooneyMichael Owen pairing in Bayern Munich loss
Published : 30 Jul 2009 22:28:49
Despite Rooney and Owen scoring 23 goals in 29 games together for England, the two forwards have yet to be paired alongside each other during the six games played by United so far in pre-season. Ferguson, who is keen for Owen to forge a partnership with fellow striker Dimitar Berbatov, is understood to believe that Rooney and Owen's experience of playing together for England ensures that the pair do not need to spend time renewing their double act during United's pre-season campaign. Related ArticlesFilling the Ronaldo voidO'Shea: United can live without RonaldoValencia scores on United debutBerbatov to play central roleSport on televisionPremier League Transfer TalkWith Rooney, who replaced Owen in the 77th-minute, named as a substitute against Bayern, Berbatov and Owen both came close to scoring either side of half-time. A Berbatov overhead kick struck the Bayern post six minutes before the break and Owen had a close-range shot well saved by goalkeeper Michael Rensing midway through the second-half. Although United's pre-season preparations have been positive in terms of their attacking plans for the new season, with all four strikers scoring at least once during the Far East tour, Ferguson is facing growing defensive problems. Club captain Gary Neville was forced to return early from the Far East with a groin strain, a trip missed by centre-half Nemanja Vidic as a result of an ankle injury sustained on international duty. Vidic then suffered a calf injury during the warm-up before United's previous game against Boca Juniors. Rafael da Silva's dislocated shoulder and a thigh strain suffered by Wes Brown in the first-half of that 2-1 victory has left Ferguson without four first-team defenders, although Brown could be fit to face Valencia at Old Trafford next Wednesday. Ferguson said: "Wes got a little pull in his thigh. There's no point carrying on in pre-season games, so it was wise to just take him off. And Vidic pulled his calf muscle in the warm-up. Once again it's our defenders falling down." Meanwhile United goalkeeper Ben Foster, overlooked in favour of Edwin van der Sar against Bayern, has been warned by England goalkeeping coach Ray Clemence that he must play regular football this season if he is to secure a place in Fabio Capello's World Cup squad. Clemence said: "To play international football you need to be playing games on a regular basis and that is his target this year: to get the opportunity to play consistently in the team. Then what Ben has to do is take that opportunity and say, 'Sorry Edwin, you're not having your place back'." United completed the signing of Senegalese forward Mame Biram Diouf from Molde on Thursday night after the 21-year-old completed a medical in Manchester. Diouf will now be loaned back to the Norwegian club until January.