United reiterate Rooney omission

Manchester United were still sticking to their story that Wayne Rooney missed Saturday's League defeat by Blackburn through injury rather than disciplinary reasons.

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Rooney was not even selected as a substitute for the shock 3-2 defeat, despite Sir Alex Ferguson being forced to name five untested youngsters on the bench.

Instead, the 26-year-old watched the match from an executive box, along with Darron Gibson, who has been mentioned along with Rooney, and currently injured defender Jonny Evans, in relation to a night out that took place on Boxing Day, after the 5-0 win over Wigan.

It has been reported by the Mail on Sunday that Sir Alex Ferguson got wind of the night out, ordered the players to do extra training on Wednesday, which was supposed to be their day off, then told them they would not be involved on Saturday.

Rooney and Gibson are reported to have trained in the morning before heading to Old Trafford to see their team-mates fail to assume top spot in the Premier League, as had been anticipated.

The implications of what has been reported could be major for United, and in particular Rooney's relationship with Ferguson.

However, whilst Red Devils officials were aware of the story circulating on Ferguson's 70th birthday, there was no official response.

Instead, the club's website continued to report the statement Ferguson made about Rooney's surprise absence to ESPN prior to kick off.

"Wayne hasn't trained well this week, he's missed a few days and we're hoping that he trains today, tomorrow and, by Wednesday, he should be okay. It's little strains here and there."

Those words suggest the initial fall-out would be limited to a single game, with Rooney - and possibly Gibson, who made his first start of the season against Wigan as United faced a chronic injury list - set to be included at Newcastle in midweek, and the FA Cup tie at Manchester City next weekend.

However, it has not been forgotten Rooney requested a transfer last season amid fears about United's long-term future, only to be eventually talked round and then end the season as a Premier League winner and a goalscorer in the Champions League final.



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