Belfast Telegraph

Bruce not ruling out Rooney 'game'

Sunderland boss Steve Bruce will not be convinced Wayne Rooney is not turning out against his team on Saturday until he sees the Manchester United teamsheet.

The 24-year-old England international was left out of the squad for last night's 1-0 Champions League victory in Valencia with manager Sir Alex Ferguson having indicated he would be sidelined for three weeks with an ankle problem.

Nevertheless, Bruce said: "Is he out for three weeks, Wayne Rooney? I don't know if he is. I don't know if he is or whether Sir Alex is playing one of his games."

Rooney has been struggling for form this season after a disappointing World Cup and has found himself the subject of lurid tabloid headlines, and there is a school of thought which suggests the lay-off could be as much for psychological as physical reasons.

However, Bruce continued: "But make no mistake, there is one person who will look after Wayne Rooney better than anyone else, and that is Sir Alex, and I am sure he will do.

"It's been a tough time for the kid, we all realise that, and possibly the reason for what happened at the World Cup, if we are honest. But make no mistake, he is a fabulous player and a strong mental character, and he will need that at the moment."

The Black Cats will head into the game having already beaten United's city rivals on Wearside and with creditable draws against Arsenal and Liverpool in their last two Barclays Premier League outings.

They returned from Anfield last weekend with a 2-2 draw but bemoaning three key decisions by referee Stuart Attwell, who allowed Dirk Kuyt's controversial opening goal but then spared Steven Gerrard a red card and denied the visitors a penalty - all wrongly, in Bruce's opinion.

Bruce has spoken to referees' chief Mike Riley this week, but is keeping what was said to himself but the Sunderland boss did add: "We have got to make sure we are not just coming out and lambasting people. Believe it or not, I don't enjoy doing it at all, but you do get frustrated.

"Those three decisions ultimately could have cost us the result last week, or maybe stopped us from getting a win, which then stops me doing my job properly. That's the frustration of it. The three last week were horrific."

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