It has been confirmed that Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov will be out of the Champions League first leg against German side Schalke after failing to recover from a groin strain.

The Bulgarian sat out of Saturday's 1-0 league win over Everton and his failure to recover from the strain was confirmed when he did not check in with the rest of his team-mates into the flight to Germany.

Though Sir Alex was likely to start with the in-form pair of Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez up front, the news comes as a blow as the league's top scorer could have been used as an impact substitute.

With just one-year left in his contract at United, speculation is rife about a move away from Manchester as his former club Spurs' is rumored to be preparing a bid around the region of £10 for the Bulgarian.

Elsewhere, Schalke defender Christoph Metzelder has said that Rooney is the man to watch and admitted that he would be closely marking the in-form striker.

After going through a lean-patch for most the season, Rooney has found form at the right time and has been instrumental in United's late season surge.

Metzelder said, It's all about stopping Rooney, he's the key player. The first match is at home so it will be very important not to concede a goal. Against Chelsea he dropped into the midfield, so it's important to defend against him not only with the defensive line but also with the midfielders.