Wayne Rooney should return for Manchester United’s Premier League match at Newcastle United on Wednesday after being omitted against Blackburn Rovers for “disciplinary reasons”.
The champions rarely comment on internal disciplinary matters but several media reports on Monday said Rooney was fined a week’s wages and dropped for Saturday’s 3-2 defeat by Rovers after a night out with teammates Darron Gibson and Jonny Evans.
The reports said Gibson and Evans were also fined a week’s wages by manager Alex Ferguson and, like Rooney, ordered in for extra work on their day off due to their lethargic performances in training the morning after their alleged night out.
The Daily Telegraph said “Rooney’s ‘lethargic’ training leaves Ferguson enraged”.
The Guardian reported that “Rooney has no beef with Ferguson after costly dinner”, adding the England striker had reluctantly accepted his fine.
United crashed to a shock home defeat by struggling Rovers at Old Trafford while Rooney watched the match from a box in the stadium.
A club source told the BBC that Rooney had accepted his fine - according to reports he earns 225,000 pounds ($349,700) a week - and would return to the team on Wednesday.
Columnist Steven Howard wrote in The Sun that, although he may have turned 70 on Saturday, Ferguson proved he was still the boss with his swift handling of the affair.
“Some will suggest the arch disciplinarian cut off his nose to spite his face ... and that Ferguson’s determination to show he still rules the roost at Old Trafford came back to haunt him,” said Howard.
“The counter argument is Rooney should never have put Ferguson in the position where he even contemplated having to leave out his best player.”
Rooney has been in fine form for United, scoring four goals in his last four appearances to help the team pull level with leaders Manchester City at the top of the table.
Although United lost on Saturday the defeat was not quite as calamitous as it might have been as City also went down to a surprise defeat on Sunday, losing 1-0 at Sunderland.
At the halfway point in the season City and United have 45 points from 19 matches, six clear of third-placed Tottenham Hotspur who have a game in hand.