Wayne Rooney faces at least four weeks on the sidelines

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Wayne Rooney faces at least four weeks on the sidelines after picking up a badly gashed knee at the end of Saturday’s game against Fulham. The striker will miss England’s World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine next month as a result of being caught by Hugo Rodallega’s studs as the pair challenged for the same ball following a free-kick.

“It’s a very bad one, he’s gone straight to hospital,” Sir Alex Ferguson said. Several players near the incident on the pitch recoiled in horror at the sight of the gaping wound, but the injury is thought to be just a deep cut, with no added complications. “I don’t know quite what happened, I think the player followed through and caught him but Wayne is going to be missing for maybe four weeks,” the United manager said. “It was just an accident.”

If Manchester United are going to have to manage without Rooney during September they made a start on Saturday. The England man began the game on the bench, with Robin van Persie up front and Shinji Kagawa just behind him, and each managed their first goals for the club in a 3-2 win. Van Persie’s equaliser was probably the pick of United’s goals, an unanswerable left-foot half-volley that gave the Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer little chance after Patrice Evra had sent over a cross from the left.

“It was a fantastic goal from Robin to get off the mark,” Ferguson said. “It was his first full game for us and he will develop a better understanding with the other players as time goes on. That goal lifted the team, from that moment on we played very, very well, but instead of winning by four or five goals, as we should have done, we gave away a goal in the second half through bad defending and suddenly it became a match again when it should never have been a match.

“Once again it was all a bit too nervy as the end when we should have been in easy street.”

Martin Jol, the Fulham manager, actually agreed with Ferguson about United being up to half-a-dozen goals better. “We had a good win last week, put playing here is a little bit different to playing at home against Norwich,” he said. “Even though we scored an early goal we were still not full of confidence, and United played so well in the first half I thought it might be a really bad day for us. We just couldn’t keep up with Tom Cleverley and Anderson, but we managed to win the second half 1-0, so it was a game of two totally different halves.”

Ferguson did not dispute that Fulham came back strongly in the second period – David de Gea made a save from Bryan Ruiz in stoppage time to help atone for his earlier mistake in presenting the visitors with a goal to get back into the game – though he did feel the visitors should have been down to 10 men at that point.

“Brede Hangeland should have been sent off for his tackle from behind on Van Persie,” the United manager said. “It was a terrible challenge, and the rules are very clear, but because he had already been booked and would have had to be dismissed, the referee let him off. I was very disappointed with that. It was a great game and I am sure everyone enjoyed it, but the one bad feature was poor refereeing.” – Guardian (UK)