BANGKOK: Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney is expected to be sidelined for a month with a hamstring problem.
The 27-year-old, who manager David Moyes says will not be sold despite speculation about his future, travelled to Thailand for United’s pre-season tour on Wednesday but will now return.United face Wigan in the Community Shield on 11 August and visit Swansea in the Premier League on 17 August.
Rooney suffered the problem during a training session on Thursday and when scans showed there was no chance he would be able to play during the tour, the England star was sent home to start his rehabilitation. “Following a scan this evening on a hamstring injury sustained in training, it has been decided Wayne Rooney should return home immediately for further assessment and rehabilitation,” United said in a statement.
The 27-year-old now faces a race against time to recover for the start of United’s Premier League title defence.
In between those two fixtures, England manager Roy Hodgson would have hoped to have Rooney available for a high-profile friendly against Scotland at Wembley on August 14.
Rooney’s injury setback comes just a day after new United manager David Moyes revealed club staff had told him the forward had returned for pre-season training in his best shape for years.
His absence is the first significant setback for Moyes and comes just hours after the champions landed in Bangkok on Thursday morning.
Moyes and his squad went straight to their hotel for a short rest ahead of what turned out to be Rooney’s single training session.
The United boss had hoped to use the tour to cement his relationship with Rooney, who worked with Moyes at Everton but has reportedly been considering making a formal transfer request following his spell out of favour during Alex Ferguson’s final season in charge at Old Trafford.
Moyes has made it clear that Rooney is not for sale but there has still been no word from the player about his intentions.
Chelsea, Arsenal and Paris Saint Germain are all said to be interested in Rooney, who has two years remaining on his 250,000 pounds-a-week contract and is at a point when negotiations over an extension would normally begin.
There is also the thorny issue of Ferguson’s declaration last season that Rooney had indeed demanded a transfer, something the player has privately denied.
Moyes is already without captain Nemanja Vidic, who was a surprise absentee from the United squad when they left England on Wednesday.
Vidic is battling to overcome a sciatica problem and Moyes is keen for the 31-year-old to rest the problem before deciding on whether to fly the centre-half out for subsequent fixtures in Australia, Japan and Hong Kong.
Those big-name absences have lent an air of chaos to United’s tour, with Moyes due to speak on Friday ahead of his side’s opening game against the Singha All Stars on Saturday.