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Rooney set for United return

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MANCHESTER, England, January 3 – Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is set to recall Wayne Rooney for the Premier League clash at Newcastle on Wednesday following the England striker’s surprise absence against Blackburn.

Ferguson has revealed Rooney will be available after the forward did not even make the substitutes’ bench for the champions’ shock 3-2 defeat by relegation candidates Blackburn at Old Trafford on New Year’s Eve.

It has been reported that Ferguson fined Rooney and United team-mates Jonny Evans and Darron Gibson, and forced them to train on their day off last week, after they were seen on a night out on Boxing Day.

But Ferguson seems willing to hand Rooney a recall at St James’ Park, telling Sirius XM radio station on Monday: “Anderson should be better, he had 45 minutes on Saturday after four months out. And Wayne Rooney will be available of course.

“We had a few training sessions which he (Rooney) missed. You’ve got to be fit to play in this league, you can’t miss training sessions.”

Several British newspapers reported that Rooney was punished for a below par training session on December 27 after a Boxing Day evening out with wife Coleen and Evans and Gibson against team orders.

Rooney was fined approximately a week’s wages — £200,000 ($310,000) with Northern Irish international defender Evans and Republic of Ireland midfielder Gibson also fined, the reports said.

The trio were then ordered by Ferguson to come in on Wednesday — a day off — and train on their own as well as report for training on the morning of the Blackburn defeat.

Although the incident has revived memories of Rooney’s threat to leave the club in October 2010 before he was handed a vastly improved contract, several papers said the player’s future at Old Trafford was not in jeopardy.

The Daily Mail cited sources with knowledge of the situation as saying Ferguson’s punishment of Rooney would not have a long-term impact on the duo’s working relationship.

United are currently level on points with leaders Manchester City, on top on goal difference alone after they failed to take advantage of their local rivals’ Blackburn slip-up in a 1-0 defeat at Sunderland.

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