Manchester: Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney has been passed fit for the Manchester derby on Sunday, manager Louis van Gaal said on Friday.
However, Radamel Falcao has been ruled out of the clash with reigning Premier League champions Manchester City. Van Gaal dismissed reports England striker Rooney was suffering from a foot injury and said his skipper would be fit to start at Eastlands after serving a three-game suspension. But Falcao, who missed the last two games following a kick in training, is still injured and the Colombian will miss the match at City.
Some reports suggested Rooney was doubtful after he was apparently seen hobbling at a sponsor's event at Old Trafford on Monday. "Rooney was not injured. The media was writing that but he was never injured," Van Gaal told a news conference on Friday. "Maybe his shoes were too tight, that is possible. But he was never injured and he shall play. He is my captain."
However, turning to Falcao, Van Gaal added: "Falcao is still injured." But Rooney's return is a boost for the Dutch boss, especially as the forward has scored 11 goals against City, notably the dramatic overhead kick which sealed a 2-1 win at Old Trafford in February 2011. "I have heard that also he has scored a lot of goals against Manchester City, the most of any player," said Van Gaal.
"I said that to him to stimulate him but he doesn't need that. "I am very happy that he can play again and he shall play," the Dutchman added. City have won five of their last six league encounters against United but Wednesday's League Cup defeat by Newcastle stretched their winless run to three matches across all competitions. "It is not the greatest moment of Manchester City," said Van Gaal ahead of his first Manchester derby.
"What we have seen of Manchester City in the last matches was not so good. "We have a good feeling about this match." However, Van Gaal warned his players not to get too caught up in the fervour of a derby clash and said it was important they retained their composure. "We don't have to accelerate this feeling because it is football and you have to play the game, not only a game with emotion but also in a tactical way.
"For me, I have to analyse and prepare for the games in the same manner (as the other matches)." United make the trip across Manchester knowing a win would close the gap between themselves and City to just a point.