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Phillip Cocu: Wayne Rooney will relish Manchester United reunion

Derby captain will face Red Devils in fifth round of FA Cup

Derby County skipper Wayne Rooney will relish the "special" FA Cup reunion with Manchester United next month, manager Phillip Cocu has said.

The 34-year-old scored a penalty in Derby's 4-2 victory over fourth-tier Northampton Town in yesterday morning's (Singapore time) fourth-round replay to set up the meeting with United, where he spent 13 trophy-laden years and left as their record goalscorer.

It will be the first time Rooney faces United since playing against them for Everton in 2018, before two seasons at Major League Soccer outfit DC United.

"He comes back from the States, joins us and now plays his old club where he had a great career... it's special... I'm sure he will be ready," said Cocu.

With three goals in his last three games, Rooney has become a key player for the 13th-placed Championship side since making his debut last month, reported Reuters.

"It'll be a beautiful game not just for Wayne, but everyone at the club," Cocu said.

"For me, they are not only a name in world football.

"They have really great players, quality players in their team.

"They play really good football and dominate the games.

"Maybe in the league table everybody expects them to be higher up, but that doesn't mean that they play bad football.

"They are an extremely strong team, but we will do everything in our power to create a great atmosphere and a great game here at Pride Park."

United sit seventh in the English Premier League, six points behind fourth-placed Chelsea, who occupy the final Champions League spot.

Despite what has been an underwhelming season, former United star Rio Ferdinand believes his former team can still qualify for next season's Champions League .


The ex-England defender told talkSPORT: "We haven't been as consistent as we would like, but that happens with change and when there's a lot of youth that has been brought into a squad.

"As a fan, you want your team to win, play well, get results, to see big players step up and score goals, and we've seen that sporadically for Manchester United this season.

"The target at the moment is to be in the Champions League, and United are fortunate there aren't a team that has really gone on a rich vein of form to cement their place in the top four. So it's up for grabs."

For the Red Devils to turn things around, they are likely to need star players like Paul Pogba and new £47 million (S$84.6m) signing from Bruno Fernandes to lead the way.

Ex-Red Devil Lee Sharpe believes the pair can make a good partnership in United's midfield.

He told Sky Sports: "I think they (Fernandes-Pogba) would have a good partnership.

"You would have to play them with someone who could do the defensive work.

"Fernandes is a natural forward-thinking midfielder.

"Going forward, I think they can cause all sorts of problems between them.

"It could be just what United need. It's been really disappointing with no Pogba this season, I think they've really missed him."