Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson on Friday dismissed speculation linking Wayne Rooney with a move to French league leaders Paris Saint-Germain.
England international Rooney has reportedly been a target of the French capital club, despite having two years of his five-year contract to run at Old Trafford.
But ahead of their game Barclays Premier League game against Aston Villa on Monday, Ferguson played down talk that the 27-year-old forward would leave the club at the end of the season.
“I don’t think there’s anything in that at all,” Ferguson said in response to question about whether Rooney had been unsettled by talk of a move to PSG.
“I couldn’t tell you (anything) about that. As far as taking him off on against West Ham, it’s because he wasn’t playing as well as Shinji (Kagawa) was.
“We had to get that goal that mattered and, of course, there are so many games where Wayne Rooney is better than other players. But on the night Shinji was playing so well.”
Manchester United will have a full squad to choose from against Aston Villa, despite a physical encounter against West Ham in their last game on Wednesday, which ended 2-2.
A win in Monday’s match could see United crowned champions if second-placed Manchester City — currently 13 points behind their local rivals — lose at Tottenham on Sunday.
Goalkeeper David De Gea took a blow to the head after a collision with Hammers’ forward Andy Carroll, although Ferguson confirmed he will be fit to play.
“We have a few bumps and bruises. David De Gea has a beautiful bruise on his cheekbone,” the United manager told reporters in Manchester.
“I think after coming out of that war zone I am pleased there is no-one seriously injured. The team were fantastic that night in terms of standing up.
“It’s the type of games you get against (West Ham manager) Sam Allardyce’s teams. We had to deal with it. A point was deserved and we could have won it in the last 20 minutes but it’s satisfying to come back from going behind twice in the game.
“I have the same squad for Aston Villa. Hopefully we pick the right team because every game seems more important than the last one. When you get nearer that line that’s the way it is.”
Ferguson predicted another tough battle against Villa and admitted that he has been impressed with the bold recruitment strategy of opposition manager Paul Lambert.
The Villa Park club have invested primarily in young players in Lambert’s first season, although they have found themselves involved in a battle to avoid relegation for most of the campaign.
“The good thing about that is that young people give you a future there’s no doubt about that. By creating that strong blend of youth they can last for a few years,” added Ferguson.
“And of course it will get better. The team will improve because of that. It creates a good base.
“Young players always remember the manager that gave them their first start. He (Lambert) has done very well and had the courage to do it.
“If they were to go down they have a structure to bring them right back up. On the evidence of what we have seen recently they have every chance of staying up.
“You expect a scrap and a team to give everything when they are down there.”