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Saints bite back after Rodgers dig

The Toe Poke
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By ESPN Staff

Rooney and Ronaldo reunited at Carrington

Cristiano Ronaldo was briefly reunited with Wayne Rooney at Manchester United's Carrington training complex this lunchtime.

Ronaldo's return following his post-World Cup break coincided with Rooney continuing preparations for his anticipated 45-minute appearance at Macclesfield this evening.

It is the first time the pair have met in a professional setting since their infamous clash during England's World Cup quarter-final defeat by Portugal in Gelsenkirchen when Rooney was controversially sent off.

Many people, including Alan Shearer and Frank Lampard, believe Ronaldo was way out of order by seemingly leading the clamour for Rooney's dismissal.

However, it appears Rooney has already forgiven his young team-mate after initially suggesting he was `disappointed' Ronaldo got involved in the fracas after the 20-year-old was ruled to have stamped on Ricardo Carvalho.

Ronaldo avoided the media scrum awaiting his arrival by driving into the training ground via a back entrance, linking up with the majority of United's senior squad for a planned afternoon session from which Rooney has presumably been excused given the 45-minute outing he will make along with Rio Ferdinand and Edwin van der Sar at Macclesfield.

Although Ronaldo twice claimed during the World Cup that he wanted to move to Real Madrid, United were quick to quash any suggestion the 21-year-old will be allowed to leave having only just signed a contract which is due to keep him at Old Trafford until 2010.

Instead, Ronaldo will be forced to face down the Premiership boo-boys looking to make him a scapegoat for England's World Cup demise.

It is anticipated the former Sporting Lisbon star will make his first appearance of the Red Devils' pre-season campaign in Amsterdam this weekend.

He could also play at Oxford on August 8 and against Seville at Old Trafford five days later before United open their Premiership programme against Fulham on August 20.

By then, Ferguson should have secured at least one new face in addition to Michael Carrick, who will become United's first summer signing providing he comes through an extensive medical with no problems.

Tottenham have confirmed the fee agreed for Carrick could eventually rise to £18.6million, which would make the 25-year-old the fifth most expensive player in United's history after Rio Ferdinand, Juan Sebastian Veron, Rooney and Ruud van Nistelrooy.

• Manchester United have confirmed Wayne Rooney will start tonight's friendly with Macclesfield at Moss Rose.

Sir Alex Ferguson suggested at the weekend he would hand Rooney his first game since England's World Cup quarter-final defeat to Portugal in this evening's game.

And, true to his word, the United boss has included Rooney in the side he sent to Macclesfield ahead of the game.

While it is only anticipated Rooney will play the first 45 minutes against Brian Horton's League Two outfit, the 20-year-old's presence should ensure a capacity crowd for the game.

Along with Rooney, fellow internationals Rio Ferdinand and Edwin van der Sar will also be handed their first appearances of United's pre-season campaign.

There is no Ryan Giggs in the Red Devils line-up, with the veteran Welshman seemingly not yet recovered from the stomach bug which has laid him low since returning from the recent three-match tour of South Africa.

Instead, Rooney will be partnered up front by Giuseppe Rossi, who looks like being one of the major beneficiary of Ruud van Nistelrooy's recent departure for Real Madrid.

Highly-rated Derry-born midfielder Darron Gibson is also handed another opportunity to shine, as is David Jones, who has already been told by Ferguson he will remain at Old Trafford for the remainder of the campaign.

Manchester United: Van der Sar, Simpson, Lee, McShane, Ferdinand, Gibson, Martin, D Jones, Rossi, Rooney, Eagles. Subs: R Jones, Shawcross, Gray, Rose, Evans, N'Galula, Mullan, Barnes, Campbell, Marsh.