Wayne Rooney could make an astonishing return from injury to tackle Bayern Munich on Wednesday night.
It had been thought that Rooney’s ankle injury would keep him out until the Manchester derby on April 17 but the striker is working overtime in the gym to make the Bayern rematch.
The England striker’s rapid return would dramatically lift spirits at Old Trafford after United crashed to a 2-1 defeat to Chelsea on Saturday.
United badly missed Rooney’s inspiration but it is now understood that the 24-year-old has a 40 per cent chance of featuring in the Champions League quarter-final second leg.
The official line from the club was that Rooney would be ready for the Manchester derby — one of the five remaining games which United would seem to need to win as they trail Carlo Ancelotti's side by two points. But Rooney, who is still wearing a protective boot on his right foot, does seem to be progressing well as he begins his recuperation in the gym.
United would love to unleash the 34-goal striker on Louis van Gaal's side but skipper Gary Neville insisted yesterday that they were not dependent on any individual.
“We never want to lose any player of his stature, particularly at this stage, but if your success relies on just one player, you won't be successful,” he said. “What happened last week [in Munich] is not something we can think too much about. We have to be quite hard about it and focus on getting the fit players ready for the next game.”
Meanwhile, pressure is growing on Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez after his side’s Champions League hopes were dented by a 1-1 draw at Birmingham City.
Elsewhere in the Premier League yesterday, West Ham held Everton 2-2 at Goodison Park while Fulham beat Wigan 2-1.