London: Manchester United will be out to prove the 4-0 defeat of Norwich in Ryan Giggs’ first match in charge since replacing David Moyes was more than just a one-off, but will come up against Sunderland on Saturday fighting for their Premier League life.
Wayne Rooney is doubtful for the match but Dutch striker Robin van Persie could return, interim manager Ryan Giggs said on Friday. Rooney is one of the several players who have picked up a bug this week.
“Rooney has also got a tight groin so obviously with the bug you have to be careful because his immune system is down,” Giggs told reporters. “Rooney, being Rooney, wants to play, so we’ll monitor it over the next 24 hours.”
There was better news of Van Persie, whose hamstring injury has kept him out for more than a month since scoring a hat-trick in the Champions League victory over Olympiakos.
“Robin’s back in training and has looked really good this week,” Giggs said. “Whether it’s too early to field him on Saturday… We’ll have to see.”
In another big match of the day, having had their Premier League title charge reignited by Liverpool’s loss to Chelsea on Sunday, Manchester City will be wary of letting the opportunity slip when they meet Everton in arguably their toughest remaining game of the season.
Pellegrini may risk attacking midfielder David Silva, who missed the win over Crystal Palace with an ankle injury. The 40-year-old Giggs, who has played nearly 1,000 times for his only professional club, declined to say whether he would pick himself in a rare example of a player-manager appearing in the Premier League.
The last one to play at that level was Stuart McCall for Bradford City 14 years ago. Giggs has not played since April 1 against Bayern Munich.
With the club widely reported to be in final negotiations with the Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal, Giggs’s future is in doubt. “Nothing’s changed,” he said. “It’s until the end of the season and we’ll chat when that’s over. My main concentration is on the remaining three games. “I have a lot to think about and whether to continue playing.”
He admitted that off-field tasks were taking up much of his time in the busy end-of-season period. “The only peace and quiet you get is when you’re on the training pitch,” he said.
Pellegrini’s men sit in third place with 77 points, three behind leaders Liverpool and one adrift of Chelsea, but with an extra match to play and a superior goal difference, three successive wins should secure the trophy.