'Useful' Wayne Rooney could return to Manchester United bench for Anderlecht decider

George Flood
Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney could be included in Manchester United's squad for the Europa League quarter-final second-leg decider against Anderlecht at Old Trafford on Thursday night (20 April), Jose Mourinho has revealed.

The Red Devils skipper played no part in the opening-leg draw in Brussels last week due to ongoing ankle issues that also kept him out of Premier League matches against Everton and Sunderland. He remained absent for Sunday's morale-boosting 2-0 defeat of leaders Chelsea after Mourinho declared that the player was neither happy nor confident with his condition despite rejoining first-team training at Carrington.

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"He has a bad feeling with his ankle and is not ready to play," the manager said. "Let's see for the weekend or the next game."

Providing a new update on his captain's fitness during a press conference held before that return clash with Anderlecht, Mourinho confirmed Rooney will be named as a substitute if he responds well during a pre-match final session held on Wednesday afternoon.

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"He's working now, he's improving and, if in this session the answer is positive, I will select him to be on the bench tomorrow," he told reporters. "His experience, his know-how of this knock-out phase – I think he's a player that can be useful tomorrow.

"If we need a goal, he can help us. If we need to keep control of the game by having possession, he can help us too. So hopefully his answer in the training session is positive."

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United have no new injuries to contend with following arguably their best display of the season against Chelsea, which saw Zlatan Ibrahimovic controversially rested and Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard deployed through the middle. Juan Mata will miss the remainder of the season as he continues to recover from groin surgery, while defensive duo Phil Jones (toe) and Chris Smalling (knee) are not expected back until mid-May.

"No injuries from the [Chelsea] game, but also no-one recovered," Mourinho said. "Mata, Jones, Smalling – they are still out. Wayne is the only one that is possible, but I cannot confirm now."

Sergio Romero to start

Mourinho established that back-up goalkeeper Sergio Romero will once again deputise for David De Gea against Anderlecht, although did not guarantee that he would remain first-choice beyond the last-eight stage of the competition should United progress.

"He's not my goalkeeper for the Europa League, he's my goalkeeper for tomorrow and he was my goalkeeper in other matches," he added. "But he's not my goalkeeper for the Europa League, I never like to do that complete separation. I can say that the priority is for Sergio to play in the Europa League, yes...I don't like the complete separation. I cannot say every match is for one or for the other.

"The reality is that Sergio is very stable and very experienced. He's playing very well. He played in the Premier League, he played well, he played in the FA Cup, he played well, he played in the League Cup, he played well. Every time he plays, he plays well. He's very stable.

"I think it's very important to have goalkeepers playing because, if not, one day you have a problem and one goalkeeper has to play and does not have the feeling of the match. So I always like to rotate my goalkeepers in different competitions, but without that complete separation of 'this competition is for me, that competition is for you'."

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