Manchester United strikers Rooney and Hernandez fit to face Norwich City
Buoyant Norwich City will be out to succeed tomorrow where all but one Premier League team failed last season – by taking at least a point from Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Only West Bromwich Albion avoided defeat at United in 2010-11, fighting back from two goals down to earn a 2-2 draw last October, while 18 other visiting sides were sent packing as Sir Alex Ferguson’s team claimed their 19th title by a nine-point margin.
The Red Devils started the current home campaign in even more imperious mood, disposing of London trio Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea and scoring 14 goals in the process.
But if the ninth-placed Canaries, fresh from back-to-back victories over Bolton Wanderers and Sunderland, are looking for a few positive signs as they prepare for what most clubs have found to be mission impossible, United’s uncertain performance in a 3-3 draw against FC Basel in the Champions League may just provide it. It took a late equaliser by Ashley Young to spare them from defeat at the hands of the Swiss champions.
United’s injury list, which may have offered City further encouragement, has eased, however, with Sir Alex confirming today that England star Wayne Rooney and fellow striker Javier Hernandez are both fit to face Norwich and that defender Jonny Evans could also return.
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Rooney had been sidelined by a hamstring injury, Hernandez suffered a dead leg at Stoke last week, and Evans has been out with an ankle injury.
With captain Nemanja Vidic (calf), Chris Smalling (groin), Rafael da Silva (dislocated shoulder) and Tom Cleverley (foot) still definitely ruled out, the United treatment room has been busy this term, though it must be said that few squads are better equipped to cope with such a list of absentees.
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City, bidding for their first win at Old Trafford since 1989, are still short of defenders with Elliott Ward (knee) and Daniel Ayala (knee) currently sidelined and Ritchie de Laet, on loan from United, not allowed to play against his own club.
Centre-back Zak Whitbread was back in training this week, but will not be considered for the bench tomorrow.
Lambert confirmed today that striker James Vaughan had undergone surgery on the knee injury he suffered against Sunderland on Monday and could be sidelined until the spring, while midfielder Korey Smith has joined the long-term casualties, out for a few months after an ankle operation.