Rooney returns, Arsenal down to 'bare bones'
Injury-plagued Arsenal are down to the 'bare bones' ahead of the FA Cup fifth-round clash against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday, manager Arsene Wenger said.
Wenger, who will make a late decision on his starting line-up, said on Friday only 14 players were to travel north for the weekend's outstanding tie.
But he rejected all thoughts of fielding a weakened team to save his senior men for next Wednesday's Champions League clash with AC Milan.
'It is a priority (this game) because it is the next game and we want to keep our good run going and we want to try to win the trophy,' Wenger told reporters. 'I am down to the bare bones of just 14 players so everybody travels.
'It will be a late decision tomorrow morning to see who I may give a breather to. So, tonight I will check the medical people.'
Wenger said he was doubtful about the fitness of defenders Gael Clichy and Philippe Senderos, striker Emmanuel Adebayor and midfielder Matthieu Flamini with various 'joint and muscle' problems.
Arsenal lead the Premier League by five points and have lost just once in their last 16 outings, a League Cup defeat at Tottenham last month. Arsenal are also unbeaten in their last three meetings against United.
Wenger said he is definitely without midfielder Tomas Rosicky, forwards Theo Walcott, Robin van Persie, midfielders Bacary Sagna and Denilson.
He said Jens Lehmann would continue in goal and that he would select the best available side for the game.
'We have a tricky week with Milan on Wednesday and then Birmingham on Saturday, plus Manchester United and we want to win this game - so I will pick my strongest possible side,' he said.
'There are only six Premier League teams left in the competition, so the winner tomorrow has certainly a big chance to win the trophy. It could be a decider for one of these teams to go through to the final.'
Meanwhile, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson welcomes back Wayne Rooney and Patrice Evra return to the squad.
Both players sat out the derby defeat by Manchester City last weekend because of suspension.
Louis Saha also comes into contention following a knee injury after training all week but Gary Neville and Mikael Silvestre remain sidelined.
Ferguson will make changes with a Champions League first leg match to come on Wednesday against Lyon.
He said: 'I think both myself and Arsene Wenger will make changes tomorrow as we have massive games ahead.
'I am sure it will still be a match of great commitment, so fasten your seat belts!
'It is an interesting season. Ourselves and Arsenal are talking about three trophies while Chelsea are after four. That is fantastic.
'In the time I have been here Manchester United and Arsenal have been competing for trophies most of the time.'
'Both clubs are run in the right way. What you see at both clubs now will still be much the same in five or six years' time.'