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Why Pochettino should stay put

By ESPN Staff

Ronaldo to return for United at Oxford?

Cristiano Ronaldo seems set to make his pre-season bow for Manchester United at Oxford tonight.

Despite reports claiming Ronaldo would not play in the friendly at the Kassam Stadium, the 21-year-old was spotted boarding the United team bus close to Manchester Airport this morning and looks certain to be involved at some stage against the Conference club.

If Ronaldo does turn out, it would be his first appearance for the Red Devils since he played an active role in Wayne Rooney's dismissal during the World Cup.

Either side of that ill-advised action, for which even Sir Bobby Charlton has admitted there will be a price to pay in terms of adverse fan reaction, the Portugal star twice claimed he wanted to join Real Madrid.

Sir Alex Ferguson was quick to brush aside those comments, insisting United had no intention of letting one of the best young players in the world leave Old Trafford, especially as his contract is not due to expire until 2010.

Now, with peace apparently having already been made with Rooney, Ronaldo is focussing on another season with the Red Devils.

Providing he comes through tonight's match without a problem, Ronaldo should play in the final friendly with UEFA Cup winners Seville at Old Trafford on Saturday, before possibly making the bench for the Premiership opener with Fulham on August 20.

The same is also true of defensive duo Gabriel Heinze and Mikael Silvestre, both of whom Ferguson previously claimed would play against an Oxford side managed by the Scot's old friend Jim Smith.

Dumped out of the Football League last term, cash-strapped Oxford are guaranteed a major cash boost from the game as Louis Saha and Wayne Rooney are also expected to be involved.