Wayne Rooney is set to make his comeback from a knee injury as Manchester United look to progress to the fourth round of the FA Cup in Wednesday’s replay with West Ham.
The forward has not played since the 1-1 draw with Swansea on the 23rd of December, but United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed that both he and Nani will return to the side at Old Trafford.
Both [Rooney and Nani] will play," Ferguson told MUTV. "Both are fit."
Ferguson also suggested that both Javier Hernandez and Antonio Valencia would also come into the lineup after being left out of Sunday’s victory over Liverpool.
"[There's] Chicha [Hernandez] and Antonio, we've got a strong squad, you know,” he added. “There won't be many changes really. Wayne coming back is good news. He's been training for a week and looking good. As for Nani, he came back from his spell abroad [having a break in Dubai] and is really looking very good. So I'm fine and will play a strong team."
Robin van Persie came off the bench to rescue a 2-2 draw for Manchester United in the original tie 10 days ago and Ferguson has said that he is determined for his side to go far in this season’s FA Cup.
"We haven't had a run for a long time, two or three years, as we had some bad draws of course,” he explained. “We're at home and we have got to take advantage of that. If we get through, we have got another home tie [against Blackpool or Fulham] so there's a big incentive for the club to make sure we get through."
West Ham are also likely to receive a huge injury boost, with influential midfielder Mohamed Diame set to return from a hamstring injury. That is a rare way of light for Sam Allardyce, though, with injuries ruling out defenders James Collins, George McCartney and Joey O’Brien. Andy Carroll also remains on the sidelines, although Mark Noble could return.
West Ham come into the replay on the back of a third defeat in their last four Premier League games, with a comprehensive 3-0 loss at Sunderland.
Manchester United (probable)
G: De Gea
D: Rafael, Smalling, Ferdinand, Buttner
M: Carrick, Anderson
Valencia, Rooney, Nani
West Ham (probable)
D: Demel, Tomkins, Reid, Potts
M: Diame, Diarra
J. Cole, Nolan, Vaz Te
F: C. Cole
Prediction: Much could depend on the lineup Ferguson selects. While there are likely to be changes, his comments suggest that there will still be significant quality in the lineup. Against a West Ham side that will have an under-strength lineup thrust upon them because of injuries, Manchester United should progress to the next round and without the drama of the first meeting.
Manchester United 3-1 West Ham
Where to watch: The FA Cup third-round replay will kick-off at 3.05 p.m. Coverage will be provided by the Fox Soccer Channel, with an online stream available later in the day via Fox Soccer 2Go.