Wayne Rooney missed Manchester United’s FA Cup win over Reading with a bad sinus infection which is also likely to keep him out of action this weekend, as the league leaders get ready to take on QPR.
That means his next game will be Norwich City the following weekend, which means he’d have played one game in two and a half weeks before the return match against Real Madrid at Old Trafford.
It’s a major worry for United and means they may have to start developing a contingency plan in case Rooney is not fit enough to face the Spanish champions, which would undoubtedly be a big blow.
“He came in yesterday [Wednesday] for the first time. The medical people are dealing with him. It's just a bad sinus infection – But he came in on Wednesday and hopefully he'll start training on Thursday. I wouldn't think he's in contention for Saturday,” said Ferguson.
So what are United’s options if Rooney is confined to the bench for the Real Madrid game? Well the most obvious one is to stick Robin Van Persie up front on his own and pack the midfield.
This would give United much greater discipline and control in the middle and would compensate for Rooney’s ability to drop off and provide an extra body in the middle of the pitch.
Ferguson could show faith to Danny Welbeck and play him as the second striker with Van Persie. Welbeck is good enough to drift out into a left midfield position which allows United to retain that five man midfield when they need to.
Another option is to go with a similar setup to the first game against Real Madrid, using Javier Hernandez as the second striker with Van Persie. However, Chicharito is not a player who will drop off and neither is Van Persie, so Ferguson will only use that option if he’s thinking very offensively.
Rooney could still be fit enough to take his place in the team. Bear in mind, this is a player who recently played against Bayern Munich in a knock out match of the Champions League with a badly sprained ankle.
It’s a dilemma United could have done without but one that they can cope with.
United fans, what would you do?
image: © nasmac