Belfast Telegraph

Wayne Rooney will be ready to shoot down Magpies: Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson shrugged off Wayne Rooney's off-field indiscretions and insisted Manchester United's star striker will be in better shape for the Premier League opener against Newcastle on August 16.

Rooney failed to find the net in Dublin last night despite United marking the opening of the new £350million Aviva Stadium by romping to a 7-1 win over an Airtricity League XI.

Two days after pictures appeared of Rooney smoking and behaving boisterously in the early hours, the England man failed to convert two decent chances on his first appearance since those sorry performances at the World Cup.

However, Ferguson, who was clearly not interested in discussing the 24-year-old's private life, is largely unconcerned and feels that with Sunday's Community Shield and an England friendly with Hungary still to play, there is plenty of room for improvement.

“I am not getting into that,” rebuffed Ferguson when asked about the pictures before adding: “He has only been training for six days but he impressed me.

“He will need more training before he plays full games but I will have to play him against Chelsea to bring him on in time for the game against Newcastle.

“By that time he would have played an international too, which could be a good thing.”

Rooney's blank, plus an ankle injury to Michael Carrick that will keep him out of Sunday's showpiece with Chelsea but no longer, according to the United boss, were the only downsides to a comfortable evening in front of a near 50,000 crowd.

“We have good young strikers at the club and with the experience of Owen, (Dimitar) Berbatov and Rooney — you can say he's experienced because he's been around for so long — and I think we look good,” said Ferguson.

He also has options at the back too now Nemanja Vidic is on the brink of signing a long-term contract extension. For much of the summer, it appeared the Serbian would be leaving Old Trafford despite his cult status amongst United fans. However, Vidic said: “I don't know why people think it was a difficult decision. I always said I am happy here,” said Vidic. “I never spoke about my future.

“I know there was all this speculation but I never said I wanted to go.”

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