English Football: Manchester United News for August 6, 2008

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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Wayne Rooney, 2006
Image: Austin Osuide.

English football team Manchester United's star striker, Wayne Rooney, will likely miss the opening match of the English Premier League, England's top-level football league, on August 17, the BBC reported Tuesday.

The 22-year-old Rooney, who also plays for English National Team, contracted a mystery illness on United's pre-season tour of Africa.

"I doubt Wayne will be fit for the start of the season," United boss Sir Alex Ferguson told the BBC. "It's a virus he picked up in Nigeria and it's not a nice one. He's not been back in training yet."

The striker position, also known as forward in some countries, is the closest offensive position to the opponent's goal and is more likely score goals than other position. Rooney played in 43 matches last season, scoring 18 goals with seven assists.

With absence of Rooney at striker, Argentine Carlos Tévez is the only fit veteran striker available for United. Portuguese striker Nani is suspended, while Anderson is playing for Brazil in the Olympics. Fraizer Campbell and Frenchman Louis Saha, both largely untested in the Premier League, remain two options, as does the signing of an outside player, such as, the BBC reports, Tottenham Hotspur's striker Dimitar Berbatov.

Ferguson also said Tuesday that Portuguese winger Cristiano Ronaldo will be staying at Manchester United, and not transferring to Real Madrid, as has been reported, both in the media and on blogs this summer.

"The matter is closed now," Ferguson said Tuesday. "He is a Manchester United player — it's finished. He'll be playing here next season believe me. It's finished."

Whether or not Ronaldo does indeed stay at United, he will have to remain on the sidelines until an ankle injury heals. The BBC reports it will be September or later before Ronaldo is playing fit.

The winger position, a type of midfielder, is the middle position in relation to the opponent's goal, behind strikers, but ahead of defenders. Wingers typically play toward the left and right sides of the pitch. Ronaldo score 42 goals in 48 appearances last season, the most of any United player.

United has two more friendlies this pre-season, facing Juventus and Portsmouth on August 6 and August 10. Manchester United, 2008 winners of both the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League, starts their season against Newcastle United.