Date: 11th December 2007 at 3:05pm
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United send a young squad to Rome, led by skipper Wayne Rooney.

Sir Alex insisted that though the Roma game is meaningless and there are players who should be given minutes on the clock, he’ll send out a team that can win the game. Well, judge for yourself, as this squad is remarkably like the one that got knocked out by Coventry…

United: Kuszczak, Heaton, Brown, Eckersley, O’Shea, Pique, Evans, Simpson, Lee, Chester, Cleverley, Hewson, Nani, Eagles, Carrick, Fletcher, Dong, Brandy, Saha, Rooney.

So, Brown, O’Shea, Carrick, Nani, Fletcher, Saha, Rooney, Pique: they are the senior outfield players in the squad. And senior now means they played league games this season.

The starting line-up, I think, will be this: Kuszczak – Simpson, Pique, Evans, O’Shea – Eagles, Fletcher, Carrick, Nani – Saha, Rooney.

Not bad – the front line is very strong, the midfield is acceptable and the defense is talented but inexperienced. Will it be enough to get anything from Rome? Fortunately it doesn’t matter as it is a game of very little importance – if you’re not Wayne Rooney, for him, it will be a vital experience.

The 22-year-old striker, often criticised for his behaviour and temper, will be made captain for the trip, something he’s been craving for a long time now.

‘He has been pestering me for quite a while now, so I have given in,’ said Sir Alex.

I think it’s a very wise choice, seeing that in the current squad, he’s got the personality to become skipper and he’s young enough. Rio can act as temporary captain but he will be 30 next year – the long-term solution should be Rooney. And it will be good preparation.