Sydney: Manchester United manager David Moyes was in no mood to discuss Wayne Rooney's future at the club on Friday but a week's training in Australia has certainly convinced him of Robin van Persie's value to the team.
A comment made by the Scotsman to reporters in Thailand last weekend, to the effect that Rooney was important in case anything happened to Van Persie, has left the England striker "angered and confused" about his position at Old Trafford.
Premier League rivals Chelsea this week pounced to make a cash bid for the 27-year-old, who left Manchester United's pre-season tour early to receive treatment on a hamstring injury, but the offer was rebuffed by the English champions.
At a news conference ahead of Saturday's second tour match against an A-League All-Star XI in Sydney on Friday, Moyes curtly dismissed an enquiry about Rooney's future by saying the club's position "hasn't changed".
Moyes does expect to hear more news about a bid for Cesc Fabregas over the next "day or so", however, and he waxed lyrical about the "massive" importance of the Barcelona midfielder's former Arsenal team mate Van Persie.
"I got to see him this week for the first time, and his control, his touch, his awareness... the finishing that he's done this week," he said, almost in awe of the skills of the Dutchman who scored 30 goals for United last season.
"And I've really been impressed by his professionalism as well. He's never complained about a thing, he's got on with the work, he's trained hard.
"What we're doing is trying to get him in a condition where he is ready to do exactly what he did last year, which was score goals for Manchester United and was a really big influence on the team and the performances.
"So we're hoping to get more of that this season."
Michael Carrick concurred with his manager over the significance of Van Persie's prolific goalscoring after joining the club for 24 million pounds last season.
"For us the players, to see the goals flying in, was great and the impact he made throughout the season was amazing for a first season at the club," the England midfielder said.
Moyes said Van Persie, who joined the squad in Sydney after missing their defeat in Thailand last weekend, was likely to play only in the second half on Saturday.
"We've over-trained him this week to try and build up his fitness," he said. "We've not come with a massive amount in the squad and it'll mean that everyone will play at some time in the game, well, that's the plan."
Another forward option for Moyes is England's Danny Wellbeck, who the Scot said was important for the future of the club even if he only managed two goals for United last season.
"He had a couple of chances the other night but it would have been worse if he wasn't getting any chances," Moyes said.
"Hopefully, he'll start getting one or two of them and it will give him the confidence to start scoring plenty of goals."
"We'll keep working on his finishing and make sure that when he does get them, he feels confident about taking them. His work has never been in question, and I've just said to him, 'I'm sure it will change for you if you keep doing the right things'."