Rooney and Co return with scopes trained

Posted by Mark Payne

Daniel Mihailescu/Getty ImagesThe boys are back in town and in fine form.

Manchester United strikers have scored seven goals in total on international duty this week and all appear to be in fine fettle. Club fans will be hoping that Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck, Chicharito and RVP still have their shooting boots on when they return to Manchester for the weekend's fixture at Stoke.

- Rooney: I've no problem with substitution

In a general sense it is great news for United that Rooney scored three for England - his first strikes of the season - and Welbeck another two. Gary Neville also took the time to comment on Rooney's current high level of fitness. Bringing good form home with you is one of the few benefits of an international break.

One suspects the England contingent might claim rustiness on account of their 24-hour delay in Poland. Steven Gerrard whinged: "When you're fired up, pumped up, you've had your massages and you're ready to go, that's not ideal, but we're professionals." He is of course, the same man who gave us the quote: "It's like being in a five star prison" from South Africa in 2010. Hearts are bleeding up and down the country.

In days gone by, players were indeed made of tougher stuff. Denis Law once netted six times in a cup tie at Kenilworth Road, only to have the match called off at half-time due to torrential rain. He was never credited with the goals, it also seems very unlikely that he had a massage either before or after the game.

Manager Sir Alex Ferguson is likely to be furious about the farce endured by England in Warsaw. His disdain for internationals in general is widely known, but collecting his superstars back a day late from Eastern Europe is sure to stir up more anger than usual.

Elsewhere, United's contingent had a mixed time of things. Patrice Evra was part of the France team that rescued a draw against Spain in the dying moments, and Nani played for Portugal as they did the same against Northern Ireland. It is fair to assume that the Frenchman will have more pride in his side's result.

Robin Van Persie's scoring run continued and he netted the 'cherry on the cake' goal in Netherlands' 4-0 victory over Romania. Similarly, Chicharito scored in Mexico's victory over El Salvador and Shinji Kagawa looked characteristically lively as Japan beat France in a friendly. He was less lively though as they lost 4-0 to a Brazil team containing Kaka, Neymar and Hulk four days later.

Darren Fletcher played in the Scotland loss against Belgium but was unable to do much about it. That represented the midfielder's second 90 minutes in a week. Great news for his match sharpness and for his comeback. However, he seems unlikely to start for United this weekend as a result.

Playing Stoke seems a throwback to the days when tackles were tackles and men were men. Tony Pulis has certainly fashioned his team into the 'Wimbledon' of the era and their reputation for playing a crunching style of football is well-earned. United will be looking to their strikers again to chisel a result form this fixture, the manager will be hoping a Polish thunderstorm hasn't thwarted his plans already.

Follow Mark on

ESPN Conversations