Wayne Rooney is set for a return versus Spurs
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson just held his weekly press conference ahead of Sunday's important Premier League tie away to Tottenham Hotspur. The highlight piece of news is that talisman Wayne Rooney is fit after missing out last weekend versus Norwich City and also during the midweek for England's friendly versus Holland due to a throat infection. The United boss also revealed that midfielder Tom Cleverley and winger Antonio Valencia are ruled out for the upcoming weekend:
"Rooney is fit and trained all week [but] Cleverley and Valencia are still out."
- Ferguson | ManUtd.com
During that England friendly at Wembley, Chris Smalling was stretchered off after suffering a nasty blow to the head during a collision with Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. Fergie had this update about his defender:
"There's no concussion but he's got quite a nasty cut. Whether we can patch it up, I'm not quite sure. We need to tread carefully and see what he's like tomorrow."
There was also an update on striker Michael Owen -- who has returned to first-team training this week:
"Hopefully the lad will have a bit of luck. He's not had much at all. When he has an injury it always seems to be a long one. Hopefully he'll be back for the rest of the season, which will help us."
Fergie also had these statements about Sunday's opponents and the title-race:
"Tottenham is always a tremendous highlight for us. It's always a tremendous game given the history of both clubs. It's a very important game for us. Look at the rest of the season. You can certainly say we're building up to what could turn out to be a title decider with Manchester City. This is our hardest away game, no doubt. Hopefully we can navigate it. Harry Redknapp's added lot of players and changed things around. Kyle Walker is a tremendous full back. He has great pace going forward and there's pace on the other side from Gareth Bale, while Rafael van der Vaart has cleverness off the front. As for Luka Modric, everyone realises what a tremendous player he is. So it's a team full of talent and they're having a great season."
There are actually injury concerns for Walker, van der Vaart, and Bale as each of those players were withdrawn from international friendlies at the midweek. Now we're all aware of ghost injuries that often result from such international fixtures but the supposed injury to Bale prompted reports that he has a grade 1 hamstring tear. If true, that's an injury that likely makes him unavailable for this match. Spurs will definitely be without midfielder Scott Parker after he was sent off last weekend during the North London derby versus Arsenal FC.
Rooney's return likely results in him starting up front alongside either Danny Welbeck or Javier Hernandez (Chicharito). With Valencia out, that means Nani is probable on the right-flank while Walker's status may influence Fergie's selection choice on the left-flank. Park Ji-sung may be chosen if the marauding Walker is deemed fit to start while Ashley Young could be chosen instead if Younes Kaboul -- who is naturally a center-back -- deputises. Smalling's injury likely only affects depth as either Phil Jones or Rafael likely would have been deployed at right-back in this match. This of course assumes that Rio Ferdinand is fit to start -- something that is a constant concern due to his chronic back ailment.