Sir Alex Ferguson has denied that Manchester United striker Robin van Persie is tired and needs to be rested as his goal drought goes on.
The Dutchman got his Old Trafford career off to a blistering start following his move from Arsenal last summer, scoring 22 goals for United by the end of January. However, he has only scored one club goal since then - in the 2-0 home win over Everton on February 10 - and he has now gone nine games without netting for the Red Devils, although he did claim Saturday's winner at Sunderland, which went down as a Titus Bramble own goal.
Despite the former Arsenal captain's lack of goals, manager Ferguson insists he will keep the summer signing in the team for Monday's derby with Manchester City.
"Robin doesn't need a rest, that's for sure," said the Scot. "He's a strong lad with a great physique. It's disappointing he wasn't awarded the goal at Sunderland - I can understand that because it took a wicked deflection.
"His shot was fantastic - it was hit with such venom that it's not surprising it took a deflection. But his ability to manoeuvre his position at that point was excellent. The goals will come. All strikers have little dry spells. You always hope it ends quickly. It's just part of being a striker."
Ferguson, a centre-forward for Queen's Park, St Johnstone, Dunfermline, Rangers, Falkirk and Ayr, scored over 200 goals in Scotland and looked back to a barren run during his playing career.
He added: "I remember I had a spell at the start of one season when I had a little knee injury and didn't score until October and I still ended up with 30-odd goals.
"You have to get through that period and not lose your faith and belief in yourself. My dad always used to say make sure you batter the ball when you're in there, don't tap it or try and side-foot the ball in the net, batter it.
"That's what I always tell strikers: when you get in the position make sure you hit it. If the goalkeeper saves it, you can say 'what a great save'. But if you try to side-foot it in and the keeper just catches it easily, you'll get criticised for that.
"It's just being sensible and realistic. Robin's shot last week could have come off any defender because it was hit so well and that's the right thing to do."
Ferguson was quoted on Wednesday as saying he has still to work out the best way to handle Van Persie's notorious injury problems which blighted so much of his Arsenal career.
"I've no worries about Rooney because he's needing games, he's the kind of player who has to play all the time," Ferguson said in The Times. "But with Van Persie, we have to monitor it because we still don't know all about Robin, and the kind of seasons he's had.
"I don't think he had a season of such intensity during his time at Arsenal, so we'll have to look at that."
Van Persie did score a total of three goals for Netherlands in two games against Estonia and Romania during the recent international break.