United to test Rooney's fitness

DOHA - Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney's fitness will be assessed on Thursday to see if he can return for this weekend's Premier League match at home to Wigan Athletic, said manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

The England player has returned from a week of intensive training in the United States after being sidelined with an ankle injury.

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"We have to see if he's ready for the first team," Ferguson told a sports conference in the Qatari capital Doha on Wednesday.

"The only evidence we will have is on the training field and I'll see that tomorrow (Thursday)." United, who are third in the table and three points behind leaders Chelsea after 13 games, meet struggling Wigan on Saturday aiming to make up for the two points they dropped at Aston Villa in a 2-2 draw last week.

"Wayne has had a good week in Oregon. He's done well," added Ferguson.

Rooney has barely been out of the headlines in recent months, making the news for his poor form at the World Cup in June, revelations about his private life and the stunning change of heart he had when deciding whether to sign a new United deal.

He eventually agreed a five-year contract on October 22 but fans have not seen him in action since he pledged his future to the club, with his last appearance coming as a late substitute in a 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion on October 16.

It remains to be seen what sort of reaction the 25-year-old Rooney will get when he does eventually return after originally saying he wanted to leave Old Trafford but if he can recapture the sort of form that produced 34 goals last season, he may quickly be forgiven.

"The boy rushed in," said Ferguson. "The minute the... supporters and press had a say, he changed his mind immediately because he knew he made a mistake.

"He immediately apologised and agreed a new contract in a couple of hours. We want to get Wayne to his best. When that happens everything will be OK."