Rooney has been out of action since last month
Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney could make his comeback from an ankle injury against Wigan on Saturday.
The 25-year-old has not played since 16 October and has just returned from the United States where he underwent conditioning work to aid his recovery.
"I don't think he'll start," United manager Sir Alex Ferguson told radio station Key103. "Maybe he will reach the bench.
"But he will certainly play on Wednesday against Rangers."
Although he has not returned to full training, Rooney has done a sufficient amount of work to be considered for a spot on the bench for Saturday's Premier League match.
And Ferguson intends to use the England man for the Champions League tie against the Scottish champions.
Rooney's return will be a welcome boost for Ferguson, who has doubts over Ryan Giggs and Rafael.
The England striker was initially expected to be out until late November but his intensive conditioning on the problem at the Nike World Campus in Oregon appears to have reaped dividends.
"Wayne has had a good week in Oregon. He's done well," Ferguson said eariler in the week, during a talk at the Aspire4Sport conference in Doha.
If Rooney does not show some good form pretty quickly, the United fans will turn on him
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On Sunday, United's assistant manager Mike Phelan delivered a similar appraisal of Rooney's chances of facing the Latics in the Premier League clash at Old Trafford.
"Will he play? We will have a look and then build towards next weekend," said Phelan. "The exercise that we have put in place for him has worked well."
Rooney, who has been struggling for form since last summer's World Cup, last played for the club when he came off the bench in the 2-2 draw against West Brom.
He picked up the ankle problem in training on 19 October ahead of the home Champions League group game against Bursaspor.
Since then, the former Everton man has been under intense scrutiny, first announcing he wanted to leave Old Trafford but then agreeing a new five-year multi-million pound contract at the club two days later.
As he did at the time of the dramatic U-turn, Ferguson maintained a forgiving stance on the matter, and believes the Old Trafford faithful will be equally lenient if Rooney can recover the form that saw him score 34 times for the Red Devils last season.
"The boy rushed in," reflected the 68-year-old Scot. "The minute the response of the public and supporters and press had a say, he changed his mind immediately because he knew he made a mistake.
"He immediately apologised and agreed on a new contract in a couple of hours.
"We want to get Wayne to his best. When that happens, everything will be OK."
Whatever the fans' reaction, Ferguson will hope that Rooney's return can help them to turn draws into victories.
Saturday's 2-2 stalemate at Aston Villa, where they came from two goals down, maintained their unbeaten record but was the sixth time in seven away league games that they have shared the spoils this season.
Rooney has only scored twice in his last 21 appearances for club and country, and United's other front men have not fared much better of late.
After scoring seven times in his first six games of the season, Dimitar Berbatov has gone nine without scoring while Mexican Javier Hernandez last scored five games ago.
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