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United ready to fire again with Rooney on board
Updated: 2004-09-28 10:36

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson believes the return to fitness of Wayne Rooney gives him a strikeforce to match the one that led United to Champions League glory five years ago.

 Ferguson has not yet decided whether to start Rooney against Turkish side Fenerbahce at Old Trafford on Tuesday night, but the England striker will definitely play, probably alongside Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Louis Saha or Alan Smith.

Wayne Rooney (R) laughs during training with team mate David Bellion at their Carrington training ground, near Manchester, September 27, 2004. [Reuters]

Whatever he decides, Ferguson thinks he now has available a pool of strikers as strong as the quartet of Teddy Sheringham, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke that he had at his disposal when United won the Champions League in 1999.

 "I am absolutely convinced about that," Ferguson told a news conference on Monday. "I am very, very happy with the four strikers I've got.

 "Hopefully, one, I can use them the right way and secondly, I hope the combinations all work together."

 "It's an important factor, but the defending part has also got to be 100 percent.

 "If you're not losing goals and are really strong, then there's no question that with players like Ronaldo, Rooney, Van Nistelrooy, (Paul) Scholes, Saha and Smith that you are going to get goals."

 Rooney's appearance will be his first for United since his 27 million pounds ($48.76 million) move from Everton as he has been recovering from a broken bone in his foot.

 "I'm just mulling over whether to start with him or put him on the bench," Ferguson said. "It may be that putting him on the bench will be the fairest thing to do.

 "But he's going to be involved and that's something we are looking forward to.

 "He's been very impressive in training. In training you see players do things that take your eye and you know you are looking at something very good.

 "He has a natural instinct for the game and a natural ability to play anywhere. He's two-footed, quick, aggressive and strong and good in the air.

 "There's not an 18-year-old at this moment, and I hope I'm correct when I say this about Rooney, that has the (same) potential.

 "But the football field is always the examination time and I'm sure we will be able to talk more about him then."

 Ferguson has a near fully fit squad to select from with only Paul Scholes, who will be out for a fortnight with a groin strain, on the injured list.

 United drew their opening Group D game in Lyon and need maximum points against Fenerbahce, whose last away win in the Champions League was at Old Trafford eight years ago and who beat Sparta Prague 1-0 in their opener.

 "In a group issue to win your home games is vital," said Ferguson. "That's imperative. With the players coming back and a strong back I feel we are ready to progress as a team.

 "But our experience of playing Turkish teams means we do give them a lot of respect and we are preparing for hard game."  

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