January 16, 2013
Rooney ready to return
Wayne Rooney is set to return to the Manchester United starting line-up for the FA Cup third-round replay with West Ham at Old Trafford.
Rooney has recovered from the knee injury he suffered in training on Christmas Day and is likely to be among a number of changes for the Red Devils.
Nani is fit again after spending two months out with a hamstring problem but Ashley Young (knee) and Johnny Evans (hamstring) both miss out.
United defender Rio Ferdinand has wished old mate Joe Cole good luck as he looks to rekindle past glories at West Ham.
Cole and Ferdinand used to be team-mates in a Hammers squad that also spawned Frank Lampard, Michael Carrick and Jermain Defoe.
All five went on to enjoy success elsewhere, while West Ham twice lost their top-flight status in 2003 and 2011.
Now Cole is looking to rebuild himself though, accepting the chance to re-sign for West Ham on a free transfer to escape the difficulties he was experiencing at Liverpool.
And though there will be no sentiment on show at Old Trafford, Ferdinand is hopeful Cole will prove to be an inspirational signing.
"The era we had there will be part of West Ham's history forever now, with so many players who went on to play for England and win league titles with other clubs,'' said Ferdinand.
"It is unfortunate for West Ham those players did not stay there and their presence get built upon.
"That is all history now I suppose. But Joe Cole has gone there to rewrite a bit of his own history in the coming months.
"It would be good to see him do something positive, but not this week. We want to get through this round.''
Though it is 12 years since Ferdinand left Upton Park, first for Leeds, then, a couple of seasons later to Manchester United for a then British record £29.1million, his attachment to the London club remains strong.
Indeed, Ferdinand can see strong similarities between the close bonds forged within the Hammers' inner sanctum and those that exist at United.
"West Ham is special,'' said Ferdinand.
"I look at West Ham as being similar to Manchester United in terms of their history and the way they keep all their people for so many years.
"It is a club that is close to my heart because I came through the ranks there.
"After Manchester United, they are the first result I look out for and I am sure it will always be that way.''
West Ham have defensive trouble for after James Collins suffered a hamstring injury in the defeat at Sunderland.
Manager Sam Allardyce has only three fit defenders to choose from, so may opt to change his system at Old Trafford as Joey O'Brien (hamstring) and George McCartney (knee) are definitely out, but midfielder Mohamed Diame is available again.
Striker Marouane Chamakh is ineligible for the cup competition due to the terms of his loan from Arsenal, while Allardyce is still deciding how best to integrate new signing Wellington Paulista, with Andy Carroll (knee) and Modibo Maiga (African Nations Cup) also absent.
A place in the fourth round of the FA Cup is the target United side which narrowly stayed in the competition at Upton Park 10 days ago. The Hammers lost 1-0 in the league when the sides met in November.
"It's more difficult to beat Manchester United on their own patch than it would've been at Upton Park a week or so ago,'' Allardyce added.
"That was a huge effort that we gave that nearly brought us a fantastic result, but unfortunately because of that man Robin van Persie it was snatched away from us at the very last gasp of the game. That was a huge disappointment on the day.
"We did do very well in the league, after recovering from a very tricky start with the deflected own goal after 30 seconds.
"We did do very well stifling Manchester United's huge amount of flair on the front line.
"We've got to do that again and to get through we've obviously got to get a goal or score more than Manchester United do.''