United striker Wayne Rooney sat out training on Monday but
should be fit for the Champions League match at home to Benfica,
manager Sir Alex Ferguson said on the eve of the game between the
top two teams in Group C.
The England international, who has scored nine Premier
League goals this season, played in Saturday's 1-0 win at
"Wayne Rooney got a few knocks on Saturday, he missed
training today, but should be OK for tomorrow," Ferguson told a
He added that defender Jonny Evans had a tight hamstring but
should also be available for Tuesday's game.
United and Benfica have eight points from four matches, with
the Old Trafford club ahead on goal difference.
Victory would put the winners through to the knockout stage
with a game to spare. A draw would qualify both if Basel lose to
Topping the group is a priority for Ferguson, not just as it
should ensure his team avoid some of the tougher prospects like
Barcelona in the next round but because it would mean playing
the last-16 second leg at home.
United have lost only one of their last 34 Champions League
games at Old Trafford dating back to 2005.
"It's a big game, a game we recognise as a real European
game in the history of Benfica and ourselves," said Ferguson
referring to United's 1968 final victory over the Portuguese
that won them the trophy for the first time.
"Both teams want to win so it should make it an open match."
The game has extra significance for United's Portugal winger
Nani, who played for Benfica's bitter city rivals Sporting
before his move to Old Trafford in 2007.
"I used to play against Benfica in games that used to be
just like Manchester United against City - tough games," he
It was perhaps an unfortunate mention of City, who thrashed
United 6-1 at Old Trafford last month in the Premier League, but
Nani was confident he knew how to beat the Portuguese.
"Their strongest point is in midfield so if we are able to
control the midfield I'm sure we have a good chance to have a
positive result," he said.
"I'm sure Benfica will play some good football but with a
lot of care as well, they know they are playing away."
United go into the game on the back of five successive wins
with clean sheets following the City hammering and, with players
now beginning to return from injury, Ferguson was hopeful of
being able to field a more settled team soon.
"It doesn't disrupt us to a great degree but it does upset
the balance of the team at times," he said of a recent stream of
"Sometimes we're having to think and re-think about which
team we need to win a match whereas sometimes when the team is
in full flow you don't need to worry about that.
"We've had a few issues which hopefully we're gradually
getting over. [Defender] Chris Smalling should be back, Rafa [Rafael] is back, once we get players back we'll be OK."
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