Football - Rooney starts for United

Wayne Rooney was named in the Manchester United starting line-up for this afternoon's FA Cup quarter-final with Chelsea.

PA Sport
Football - Rooney starts for United

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Wayne Rooney returned to the Manchester United starting line-up to take on Chelsea

Rooney was surprisingly left on the bench for Tuesday's Champions League defeat by Real Madrid, triggering massive speculation about his future.

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson attempted to play that down on Friday, insisting Rooney would still be at Old Trafford next season. Even so, it would have been difficult to envisage a future at Old Trafford for Rooney if he had failed to make the United line-up today.

He was included, though, and in his preferred striking role alongside Javier Hernandez, with Robin van Persie this time left on the bench.

In his robust defence of his treatment of Rooney on Friday, Ferguson also spoke of his fears about the way his striker was being handled, especially when he is away on England duty. However, the FA has defended its position, insisting Rooney is treated no differently than any other player on England duty.

"Wayne has not undertaken any commercial PAs (personal appearances) for the FA in the past 12 months and has not fulfilled any more media obligations than other senior squad members," said an FA spokesman. "As with all England players, we look to ensure that media activity whilst on England duty is sensibly managed."

Ferguson was visibly angered by reports of Rooney's imminent exit when he faced the press on Friday and said: "Wayne will be here next year. You have my word on that. The issues that you're all going on about are absolute rubbish. There is absolutely no issue between Wayne Rooney and I. To suggest we don't talk to each other on the training ground is absolute nonsense."

The Scot was subsequently quoted in the Sunday morning papers saying that a new contract for Rooney would be looked at at the appropriate time, contradicting reports in the aftermath of Tuesday's defeat which suggested the club could allow him to leave at the end of the current campaign.

The former Everton forward is tied to United until the end of the 2014-15 season and Ferguson expects a new deal to be discussed.

Ferguson said: "There's no issue with his contract, when it has to be renegotiated it will be. We don't want players to leave."

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