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English Premiership

Rooney set to fire

MANCHESTER, February 4- Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has backed Wayne Rooney to "take off" and hit the goal trail once again in the closing stages of the season.

Rooney has endured a barren run of form but his double in the win over Aston Villa on Tuesday could spark his season into life, Ferguson said.

The England striker, who has endured a troubled season on and off the pitch, has scored just five times in all competitions this season.

But the Manchester United manager saw Rooney answer his call for a more goals input and has tipped him to maintain that for the rest of the campaign.

"What Wayne has always had is a fantastic energy to play the game. He is always committed to doing his best," Ferguson said.

"The bonus is he got was his two goals. Hopefully and there’s every chance, scoring the kind of goals he scored — especially the first goal — he will take off," he added.

"Goalscorers are like that. Hopefully that’s what we will see with Wayne. We have 14 league games left, as well as European games, FA Cup games and he could easily get a good average goalscoring this year."

Ferguson, who takes his side to Wolves in search of overhauling the 1999 Treble-winning team by recording a club record 30 games unbeaten, believes his striker can go on a run just like he did last season.

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"He was a very consistent goalscorer last year. The previous years came in clutches of five or six games, then he’d have a barren period and coming back again," he said.

"If he can get the consistency of last season we will get the benefit."

Ferguson takes his side to Molineux believing they can continue from where they left off in the 3-1 win over Aston Villa.

"I think we produced fantastic football at times and could have scored a few goals against a good Aston Villa team. That’s been our best benchmark this season so far," he said.

One player who won’t be playing is Gary Neville, who announced his retirement from the game earlier this week.

Neville is set to be offered a role at the club, with a testimonial also in the pipeline.

Ferguson saluted his long-serving full-back after he hung up his boots with immediate effect following 602 games and 19 years with the Old Trafford club.

"He’s a fantastic man and came to us a as 13-year-old boy as an avid Man United fan and remained that way," Ferguson said.

"The determination has always been there to be the best. He’s a legend at the club will remain so for rest of his life.

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"He’s a terrific example to all the younger players here. He has helped them with contracts and has been prepared to fight for their corner.

"The ankle injury accelerated it for him. If you look at last four years he has had nothing but injuries.

"But he came back time and time again, eventually with his last injury he felt enough was enough.

"The next step forward is to retain him in a capacity that he is satisfied with. He has created a real family atmosphere in the dressing room and we want him to stay. He has been a great example and a presence. We must find a role for him."

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