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PARIS, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney did not travel with the squad for Wednesday’s Europa League last-32, second leg at St Etienne despite training on the eve of the match, amid continuing media speculation about his future at the club.
The England striker has been struggling with a muscle injury and last played at the start of February. British media have linked the 31-year-old with a move to the Chinese Super League where the transfer window remains open until Feb. 28.
Asked about Rooney’s future, United manager Jose Mourinho told a news conference on Tuesday that he did not want the striker to leave but said the decision was in the player’s hands.
”You have to ask him,“ said the Portuguese coach. ”I can’t guarantee that I‘m here next week, how can I guarantee that the player is here next season?
”What I can guarantee is that if Wayne one day leaves the club it is not because I want him to leave the club, that’s the only thing I can guarantee.
”I would never push, or try to push, a legend of this club to another destiny.
”So you have to ask him if he sees himself staying at the club for the rest of his career or he sees himself moving. It is not a question for me because I‘m happy to have him.
“I was very open with you... I don’t want him to leave.”
Rooney, who last month became United’s record scorer on 250 goals, trained at the club’s Carrington complex on Tuesday, before the 20-man party left for France where they will defend a 3-0 first-leg lead against Ligue 1 side St Etienne.
But he is not ready to play any part in Wednesday’s match.
“No chance for tomorrow, he is not here, he stayed back training, and let’s see for the weekend,” said Mourinho referring to Sunday’s League Cup final against Southampton.
Asked if Rooney would be in the squad for the Wembley showpiece he added: ”I don’t know. This morning was the first time he trained and he didn’t even train 100 percent with the group.
“He was doing the warming up and the basic things after warming up but then when the training session was higher in intensity he was not training.” (Reporting by Julien Pretot in Paris and Neil Robinson in London; Editing by Richard Lough and Ken Ferris)