DOHA // Sir Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager, described Wayne Rooney's fitness as "accelerated" as the star striker mends from the ankle injury that has bothered him since last spring.
Speaking yesterday during a one-hour appearance for the Aspire4Sport conference, Ferguson said Rooney, 25, had "a good week in Oregon" in the US, where he recently went for further rehabilitation.
"The only evidence we're going to have is on the training field," Ferguson said. "And I'll see that [today]."
Responding to a question from moderator Jim Rosenthal, Ferguson also looked back upon the recent tension involving Rooney and his contract, when the player expressed a desire to leave United then reversed course the next day and signed a five-year deal.
"You don't need to heed advice," Ferguson said. "Now, you should listen to advice. And I think some young people today take bad advice. I think he has an agent - how should I put it? - not the most popular man in the world. Certainly not too popular at our club."
After some brief laughter in the room, Ferguson continued, "And I think once the public, the supporters, the press had their say, he changed his mind immediately because he knew he made a mistake.
"And there's nothing wrong with making a mistake if you admit it."
As for Rooney's reputation among Manchester United fans irked over the matter, Ferguson said, "I think the evidence will be on the football pitch. I think when we get Wayne back to his best … I think when that happens, everything will be OK."
Tomorrow, former Manchester United striker Andrew Cole talks about the transition from club to international football.