Rooney to be assessed on Thursday: Ferguson

Last Updated: Wed, Nov 17, 2010 16:17 hrs

DOHA: Wayne Rooney's fitness is improving and he will be assessed on Thursday to see if he is ready to return to the Manchester United first team.

Rooney is back in England after training in the United States and was due to practice on Wednesday, but United manager Alex Ferguson couldn't say if the striker would play against Wigan on Saturday.

"Wayne has had a good week in Oregon. He's done well," Ferguson told an audience on Wednesday at the Aspire4Sport conference in Doha, Qatar. "Now, he's back and he will train today.

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"We have to assess if he ready to get into the first team. That is an area which I couldn't give you an answer to you because the only evidence we will have is on the training field and I'll see that tomorrow."

After persuading Rooney to sign a new contract with the club, United sent the striker to train with sponsor Nike to help him recover from an ankle injury that has kept him out of action for three weeks.

Rooney was voted player of the year in England last season, but has seen his fortunes plummet since then.

After scoring 26 Premier League goals last season, the 25-year-old suffered through a lackluster World Cup and scored only once in seven appearances this season before limping out of a 2-2 Premier League draw at Bolton on Sept. 26.

Off the field, Rooney was the subject of newspaper allegations that he cheated on his pregnant wife with a prostitute.

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Then came his public threat to quit United over what he said was the club's inability to compete in the transfer market for top players.

He eventually rescinded that threat and signed a contract that makes him the highest-paid player in United's 132-year history, but he has a way to go to win back the trust of supporters who idolized him since he scored a hat trick on his United debut at age 18.

Ferguson said Rooney had taken "bad advice" from an agent who "is not the most popular man in the world."

"The boy rushed in," Ferguson said. "The minute the response of the public and supporters and press had a say, he changed his mind immediately because he knew he made a mistake ... He immediately apologized and agreed on a new contract in a couple of hours."

Ferguson said he felt the rift between the fans and Rooney would eventually heal as long as his performance improves.

"I think the evidence will be on the football pitch," he said. "We want to get Wayne to his best. When that happens, everything will be OK."

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