Wayne Rooney could lose Man United spot, says Ray Parlour

Rooney again failed to find the net at Northampton on Wednesday night
Image: Wayne Rooney failed to find the net at Northampton on Wednesday

Wayne Rooney could be dropped by Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho for Saturday's Premier League showdown with champions Leicester, according to Sky Sports expert Ray Parlour.

The United captain has started all their Premier League games this season and was in the line-up for Wednesday's 3-1 EFL Cup victory at Northampton, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcus Rashford coming off the bench.

Live Premier League

Parlour expects the latter duo to start when Leicester visit Old Trafford on Saturday, live on Sky Sports 1, with Rooney rested.

"I think Rooney is the big problem at the moment," Parlour told Sky Sports News HQ. "What does he [Mourinho] do with Wayne Rooney? Does he play him or not?

"I have got a funny feeling this might be the time that Rooney is left out, just to recharge his batteries and get him out of the focus a little bit, because he is the man at the moment who is getting the most criticism.

Northampton keeper Adam Smith allowed Marcus Rashford to wrap up the 3-1 victory

"I think Michael Carrick or Morgan Schneiderlin will start, maybe alongside Marouane Fellani.

"Paul Pogba maybe in the No 10 role, and then Rashford one side, Ibrahimovic will play, and then there is a space on the right-hand side.

Also See:

"It is just getting the right balance now, which he [Mourinho] has not had in the last few games."

Rashford came off the bench to find the net at Northampton and Parlour is in no doubt that the youngster should start against Leicester.

Three months' half-price Sky Sports

Three months' half-price Sky Sports

Watch the Premier League, Ryder Cup and the EFL Cup

"I definitely would play him, every single game," said Parlour. "If he is fit, play him. 

"A lot of people would not even run for that [the long ball which led to the goal] but he has thought, 'I will have a go, I will try and get on the end of this'.

"He has been superb and it will be interesting to see what the team selection will be at the weekend for Jose. Rashford, for me, will definitely be on that team-sheet.

Michael Carrick felt that Manchester United could have made things easier for themselves at Northampton

"I thought Michael Carrick was excellent in midfield as well [at Northampton]. What Carrick brings to your team, he can see a pass, and I think that is what has been lacking a little bit the last few games.

"Carrick is a one or two touch football man and he has got all the experience."

Fellow Sky Sports pundit Nigel Winterburn thinks midfield is a possible spot for Rooney, but feels he would be under even greater pressure to perform in that role.

"I think at the moment, the conundrum is where is he going to play Wayne Rooney, if he plays him at all," said Winterburn

Key Battle: Bailly v Vardy

Key Battle: Bailly v Vardy

Eric Bailly faces Jamie Vardy on Saturday. We check the stats to see who will come out on top

"With the weekend in mind, Rooney may drop back into the midfield, if he was going to play.

"When he drops back into that midfield position, he has got to be playing to a high level or, if Manchester United don't win, the criticism comes to him first."

Parlour added: "I don't know if he [Rooney] is enjoying his football at the moment. Everybody goes through it, and sometimes you do need to be pulled out of the firing line.

"I am sure that Wayne Rooney, with his quality, will be able to handle that."

Watch Man Utd v Leicester, the Ryder Cup and the EFL Cup as part of our three months' half-price offer

Around Sky