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Rooney relishing reunion clash

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09 Jul 2011 10:12:00

Rooney relishing reunion clash

Wayne Rooney intends to have Wes Brown and John O'Shea chasing around after him when Manchester United tackle Sunderland later this season. More fireworks than normal can be expected on Bonfire weekend as the Black Cats' visit to Old Trafford will mark the return of a pair of old favourites, who opted to sign up for life on Wearside earlier this week. Nani has already claimed he expects to get kicked. Rooney intends to stay out of harm's way. "I am looking forward to it even more," he said. "It is always nice to play against former team-mates and hopefully they will be chasing me around. "It is always sad when your friends and team-mates leave. But you can understand it. "The two of them didn't get much football last year. They are ambitious and want to be playing every week." The departure of two players who have amassed more than 600 appearances between them merely adds to the sense of it being the end of an era at Old Trafford. Gary Neville retired in the middle of last season, Paul Scholes and Edwin van der Sar immediately after it and with Owen Hargreaves' contract not being renewed either, Sir Alex Ferguson has lost a huge amount of experience. He has faith in his younger players, though. One of the reasons he was not too perturbed by the prospect of Brown and O'Shea leaving was the form showed by Chris Smalling during his debut season. That has now been rewarded with a lucrative five-year contract extension, allowing the 21-year-old to look forward with confidence. "This is a great club and in the short time I have been here I have already achieved more than I could have ever expected to," said the Londoner. "I am looking forward to a long and successful career at Manchester United." Ferguson is of the same opinion about a player who far exceeded expectations during his debut United campaign, considering he had been playing in the non-league for Maidstone less than two years before joining the Premier League champions. "Chris has been outstanding since joining us from Fulham last year. "He is an extremely talented young defender. He is quick, strong and reads the game well. He is a great asset to the team."


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