Wayne Rooney has been ruled out of Manchester United’s game against Chelsea on Sunday.
The England striker, who has missed United’s last three matches with a groin injury, has returned to training after a warm-weather break in Egypt but is not fit enough to face the club who tried to sign him last summer.
And United will be without their two top scorers as Robin van Persie is also unavailable for the match at Stamford Bridge, though he is likely to return to training next week and manager David Moyes hopes his main strikers will both be in contention to feature soon.
Moyes said: “Wayne’s come back, he’s fresh but he’s not ready for Chelsea.
“He’s training, he’s on the grass, doing some running and looking quite good. He’s had a break, done a lot of strengthening work around his groin and hopefully enjoyed a few days in the sunshine as well. Hopefully he’ll benefit from it, but not for this game.”
United face Sunderland in the second leg of their Capital One Cup semifinal on Wednesday but Moyes is unsure yet whether Rooney will be fit.
He added: “I don’t want to put a date on it just now as I don’t want to say he’ll be fit for whatever game and then I find he’s not, but we’ve just got to take it bit by bit. I’ve watched him running; he looks well and is in really good condition.
“He’s kept himself right and has worked with one of our fitness coaches, who travelled with him. Overall, we’re pleased and just hope we can get him back as quickly as we can. He’s an important player.”
Van Persie, who has scored 10 times this season, has missed United’s last nine games with a thigh problem.
And Moyes said: “I’m hoping Robin has a good chance of training at the start of next week, so if I can get him back out on the grass and back with us, it’ll be a great boost for us all.
“He’s a really important player and a player we’ve missed. But he’s getting closer now and most of them are getting closer to fitness, so let’s hope it’s not too long until we get them back.”