Louis van Gaal is hoping that Wayne Rooney will be fit to return to the first-team squad for their FA Cup quarter-final replay clash against West Ham United on Wednesday (13 April) after he came back to training following his recovery from a knee injury sustained during their loss to Sunderland earlier in the year. The English forward has been sidelined for just less than two months and his return will be a massive boost for the Red Devils, who are seeking silverware in the FA Cup and battling the Hammers and neighbours Manchester City for a place in the top four of the Premier League.
The 30-year-old striker is expected to take part in United's U21 clash against Middlesbrough on Monday night (11 April) and depending on his performance and fitness levels the manager expects him to be involved in the clash just two days later at the Boleyn Ground against the Hammers. The Dutch manager, however, has made it clear that he will not be awarded an automatic starting place in the team, as he will have to assess his performances against the current starters before making his decision.
Van Gaal has already been impressed with Rooney during training and is hoping that he can provide the spark necessary to put them on a winning run as they look to qualify for the Champions League next season and move into the semi-finals of the FA Cup.
"I cannot say that because when I saw him training yesterday (Thursday) for example he scored a goal, he made a fantastic chip over the goalkeeper. It was his first training session and I said to him 'I have never seen that this season,'" Van Gaal said, as quoted by the Manchester Evening News.
"He can be so good that I shall be forced to give him a position in the team. But it depends on what we see over the next days. Let's wait if he plays 60 minutes at a lower level and then he can play against West Ham United, you never know."
"I hope so! I hope so. I am counting on him. I have said that to him already. You have to be fit in the first place. Secondly, I have to compare him with the players who are playing," the former Bayern Munich manager added.