Rooney admits he faces battle for Manchester United place after returning from injury
15:24 GMT, 28 September 2012
Wayne Rooney knows he is entering a heated battle for a first-team slot at Manchester United as he prepares to make his Barclays Premier League return from injury.
With the England striker now recovered from the gashed thigh he suffered against Fulham last month, United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has five top international forwards to select from ahead of Saturday evening's encounter with Tottenham.
It says something that perceived first-choice pairing Rooney and Robin van Persie have yet to start a game together this season, yet still United have managed to move their way into second spot, just behind early pace-setters Chelsea.
Fight: Wayne Rooney must earn his place
However, with a tricky Capital One Cup tie against Newcastle already negotiated, a Champions League encounter with CFR Cluj to come on Tuesday before a Premier League rematch with the Magpies next Sunday, Rooney realises there is plenty of work for everyone.
'There is a lot of competition up front, but that is great for the squad,' said Rooney. 'The manager will rotate when he feels it is necessary.
'There are a lot of games throughout the season. It means we can get a rest here and there to make sure we are ready for the big games towards the end.'
Rooney occupied a deep-lying role against Newcastle, which allowed him to exploit gaps behind Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez.
Very effective the 26-year-old was too, although whether it is a policy Ferguson would be prepared to persevere with in the Premier League is open to debate.
Rooney is not complaining though.
After being dropped against Fulham, then getting trodden on by Hugo Rodallega when he was finally introduced, it feels like the season is starting again.
'It does feel like the start of my season,' he said.
Big guns: Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck (below) are tough competition
'It was a freak injury and whilst it wasn't too bad, I had to be careful when I came back training and in games because it could open up again.
'There is only so much you can do in the gym. You need that training and game time to get you to your full sharpness. I am glad to be over it and back playing.'
Now Ferguson must decide whether to finally partner Rooney with Van Persie or keep faith with Shinji Kagawa, who joined the Dutchman in United's starting line-up at Liverpool last week.
Without a win at Old Trafford since 1989, Tottenham are the kind of team United usually relish hosting.
Rooney has also bagged seven goals against the north London outfit, which gives him hope he will have a good day.
Me too: Javier Hernandez is also vying for selection
'We always seem to do well against Tottenham,' he said. 'Hopefully that will continue.
'But they are a good team with great players. We know it will be tough and we will need to be at our best to beat them.'
And maybe with a bit more fluency than they have managed so far this term.
'We would like to play a little bit better and not concede as many goals as we have early in the season,' he said.
'It is something we have been working on. Hopefully it will happen for us.'