Wayne Rooney will make his return from injury in an U-21 Premier League clash at home to Middlesbrough on Monday 11 April. The Manchester United striker has been sidelined for almost eight weeks after damaging knee ligaments during a miserable defeat at Sunderland in February, missing 11 matches in total including top-flight victories over both Arsenal and Manchester City as well as a two-legged Europa League last-16 tie against rivals Liverpool.
Such an absence has come at a critical time for Rooney, with United's top-four ambitions still very much alive ahead of a difficult trip to title contenders Tottenham Hotspur this weekend. His starting role for England has also come under considerable threat despite the support of Roy Hodgson after Harry Kane and substitute Jamie Vardy both scored in a remarkable comeback victory over world champions Germany last month.
Providing a positive update on his captain's recovery in a pre-game press conference, manager Louis van Gaal was quoted as saying by the Manchester Evening News: "He has trained with us two times, but he has to build up his fitness. He's playing for the under-21s. His recovery is going very well."
Although Rooney will not be available to face Tottenham, both Ashley Young and Phil Jones are fit for the visit to White Hart Lane. Young was left as an unused substitute during a 1-0 victory over Everton after being ruled out since 17 January following surgery on a severe groin problem suffered against Liverpool, while defender Jones has not played competitively since being withdrawn at half-time of a New Year's defeat of Swansea due to a recurrence of an old ankle injury. Both players came through this week's 1-1 U-21 draw with Chelsea at Old Trafford unscathed.
"Yes, they are more or less fit players but you cannot be fit after one game at a lower level," Van Gaal said of that duo. "We have a big squad now, we are training with 26 people and we have to adapt to that new situation again, but it is very promising now."
Adnan Januzaj was not involved against Chelsea and it was subsequently reported that the Belgian international, who has seen his senior opportunities restricted since returning early from an underwhelming loan spell at Borussia Dortmund in January, was struggling with another hamstring issue. He will join Bastian Schweinsteiger in the treatment room as the Germany skipper recovers from a partial tear of the medial collateral ligament that has threatened his participation at Euro 2016. Striker Will Keane is still unavailable, although Luke Shaw has taken a big step in his rehabilitation from a double leg fracture by joining in with light training.