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Jose Mourinho: Wayne Rooney ready for Wembley after exit rumours end

By Simon Peach

Jose Mourinho was pleased to see Wayne Rooney end speculation about his immediate future, with the Manchester United manager confirming his captain will be involved in tomorrow's EFL Cup final.

Talk had been growing over the 31-year-old soon making an Old Trafford exit, with his agent Paul Stretford understood to have been in China this week speaking to interested clubs.

However, Rooney committed his future to United in a statement on Thursday evening, saying he wanted to remain at the club during this "exciting time".

Questions remain over the skipper's long-term future but his statement pleased Mourinho, who confirmed the England captain will be in the squad to face Southampton in the EFL Cup final after a hamstring complaint.

"He did it in the right moment - in the best moment - his declaration, his statement," the United boss said, having on Tuesday cast doubt over Rooney's future.

"I told you that the questions you were asking me were questions for him. He did it in exactly the right moment because I think your question is the last question about Wayne Rooney, and I think it should be the last until the end of the season.

"He says no way he moves, he stays, he wants to help the team to fight for the trophies. I told you already that I would be happy if that is the decision.

"So, yes, he is fine, he is training with the team. No doubt he is involved for the game."

Doubts remain over Phil Jones' fitness following a foot complaint, but Michael Carrick is available for the Wembley clash after sustaining a calf issue in Wednesday's 1-0 Europa League last-32 second leg victory at St Etienne.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored the winner in France but will now miss the EFL Cup final after going off with a hamstring injury.

United are favourites against Southampton - just as they were 41 years ago when Saints emerged victorious in the FA Cup final, the only major trophy in their history.

Mourinho is looking to win his first major competition at the Old Trafford helm, having already triumphed in the Community Shield.

Put to him he would become United's first manager to win a trophy in their first season if they won tomorrow, he responded: "First of all, you are right with 'if', 'if' is a big thing in football.

"But the important thing is the club and obviously the club won a trophy last season. Let's try to win another one this season."

Mourinho has described United's Europa League pairing with FC Rostov as "a bad draw in every aspect".

United will face the Russian side in the last 16, travelling to Rostov for the first leg on Thursday, March 9.

The return match will take place at Old Trafford the following Thursday, 72 hours after United play an FA Cup quarter-final against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Monday, March 13.

United boss Mourinho had already complained about the scheduling of that domestic cup tie, and the travelling now involved in the Europa League has compounded his frustration.

The Portuguese said: "It is a bad draw in every aspect. It is far and it is difficult."

Mourinho showed his support for sacked Claudio Ranieri by having his initials emblazoned on his United shirt.

Mourinho said: "It is my little homage to somebody that wrote the most beautiful history of the Premier League.

"Somebody that probably would deserve the Leicester stadium to be named 'Claudio Ranieri' - and he is sacked. So I think Leicester made history two years in a row. One year because they did the most beautiful thing in the Premier League and one of the most beautiful histories in football history.

"And now they are also in the highlights with the decision that I think has everyone in football united because it is something very, very difficult to accept."

Belfast Telegraph


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