Manchester United footballer Wayne Rooney challenged a Twitter user to a fight last night after the footballer had been abused on the social networking site.

The number of people following Rooney on the site has jumped by 5,000 since last night after the 25-year-old Manchester United striker told Twitter user sam_oldham_LFC I will put u asleep within 10 seconds responding to aggressive comments.

The row began when the Liverpool supporter Sam Oldham, who has now removed his profile from the site, said: Rooney ill smash ya head in with a pitchin wedge an bury ya with a ballast fork ya fat ugly lil nonse.

The sportsman replied: haha you know were I train every day kid come and do it good luck.''

Oldham said: ill be down tomorrow lad in me twin turbo nissan micra.

Rooney replied: I'll put u asleep within 10 seconds u little girl. Don't say stuff and not follow up on it. I'll be waiting.

Rooney later sought to defuse the incident, tweeting, Haha bit of banter and people go nuts chill all people before going back to tweeting about football and his family.

Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand also tried to make the argument more light-hearted. He tweeted: These Twitter hard men make me laugh....give it loads but wouldn't throw a grape in a food fight!! Hahahaaha love iiiiiit!!

Other Twitter users joined in the debate today. TV presenter Eamonn Holmes said: Big Congratulations to @WayneRooney for squaring up to his Twitter abuser! Why do so many Tweeters need to be so unecessarily nasty ?

Tweeter Ian Ashworth made a joke out of the incident: I genuinely believe Rooney could put someone to sleep in 10 seconds. I've read his tweets.