Rooney set for recall but Fergie stands by omission

MANCHESTER Utd vs RANGERS

Sky Sports 2, ko 7.45pm

MANCHESTER United boss Sir Alex Ferguson insists he has no qualms about recalling Wayne Rooney for tonight’s highly-charged, all-British Champions League showdown with Rangers.

And Ferguson maintains he was right to drop Rooney at the weekend amid speculation about his private life, despite throwing away a two-goal lead at Everton in his absence.

“I have no regrets; I did the right thing,” said the United manager. “And I have no concerns about playing him tomorrow at all. He’s a terrific player and we expect a good performance from him. I don’t know if tomorrow will inspire him. But I do know scoring for England last week will have given him a boost.”

Ferguson rejected suggestions he omitted Rooney from the trip to Goodison Park as a form of punishment, maintaining that it was in order to spare the former Everton player a particularly bilious reception at this sensitive time. “I have no need to clear it up,” he said. “I explained the reasons on Saturday. There is nothing beyond that.”

United defender Rio Ferdinand is also tipped to play for the first time this season, although Ferguson is adamant his back line is not in need of strengthening despite conceding two late goals on Merseyside.

“It’s not frailty, it’s been a lack of concentration in our defending,” added Ferguson, a former Rangers player. “Rio has trained last few weeks and he needs to play games now.”

Rooney’s off-field travails have added even greater spice to a contest that already promised a lively atmosphere, but Rangers captain David Weir, a former Everton team-mate of the England star, has warned the travelling Scottish contingent against trying to wind him up.

“I am more interested in Wayne Rooney as a footballer and I don’t think there is any need to give him any encouragement,” said Weir.