Louis van Gaal has reiterated that his captain Wayne Rooney will return to the Manchester United line-up when fit, regardless of the form of teenager Marcus Rashford.
The 18-year-old striker has scored four goals in two starts for the club but the Dutchman has made it clear that Rooney remains his first-choice striker.
As we detailed in Winners and Losers, Rooney has scored more than one goal in a game for United twice in the past year, but Rashford has done it twice in four days. In the space of 170 minutes, an 18-year-old striker has managed 24% of Rooney’s goal total from the last 12 months.
“I have not bought a striker because of Wayne Rooney and Martial, because they could play in the striker position, and because Rooney is the captain he shall always play,” revealed Van Gaal on Tuesday. “I don’t buy a third striker, so he [Rashford] has the possibility.
“He was on the bench at Watford and Leicester. He was having a very good period. He might have come in for the Watford match but we played another system and Memphis Depay and Jesse Lingard played very well.
“Because we have a small squad and no more than two players for one position, you can give an opportunity to a youngster.
“When I have choice enough, then I rotate. There’s no player in the English Premier League who can cope with the rhythm of matches.
“A player like Rooney could always cope but he is injured and not for the first time. So I have to rotate. I have Rooney, I have Martial, I have Rashford, I had Will Keane but Keane is injured and will be operated on. When I have more players, I will rotate.”
Van Gaal confirmed that Rooney could return to United action by the end of March as he does not need an operation on his knee injury.