Manchester United v West Bromwich Albion: Preview
Sir Alex Ferguson has opted to sidestep a confrontation with Wayne Rooney - and turn 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.
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 the 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."
Ryan Giggs is ready to return from a hamstring injury to give Ferguson a few more options.
West Brom could be without Premier League player of the month Peter Odemwingie at Old Trafford.
Striker Odemwingie is struggling to recover from a knee strain, sustained during the Baggies' 1-1 draw against Bolton.
Midfielder Jerome Thomas is also a doubt, having missed the Bolton match with a calf injury.
Head coach Roberto Di Matteo reported that all of his players involved in international matches have returned unscathed.
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