Wayne Rooney will tonight make his first on-field appearance since playing in England’s disastrous World Cup defeat to Germany, by lining up for Manchester United in their friendly against a League of Ireland XI (kick-off 7.45pm).
The 24-year-old forward has been in plenty of action off the pitch, making headlines for late-night parties, befriending quiffed duo Jedward and puffing on a cigarette.
Now he is ready to get back to what he does best, with the aim of putting behind him a series of poor displays in South Africa and rediscovering the kind of form that got him 34 goals last season.
Along with other returning World Cup players, Rooney should put a League of Ireland XI to the sword in a match arranged to mark the opening of Dublin’s Aviva Stadium.
United are a near certain 1/5 to win the match, but more money should be made going for correct scores.
Given it’s almost customary for home sides to score in these situations, 3-1 (10/1) and 4-1 (14/1) victories for the 2/1 Premier League challengers are more likely outcomes.
After a ferocious surge in goal-getting last year, Rooney seems set to continue his relentless club scoring and is a sound 5/1 bet to grab the Golden Boot.
His main rival for that accolade is also playing today.
Didier Drogba, who pipped Rooney to the top scorer crown on the final day of last season, is 9/2 to win it again and the Ivorian should feature for Chelsea in their friendly against Hamburg this evening.
After defeats to Ajax (3-1) and Frankfurt (2-1) Carlo Ancelotti will hope his side can get a positive result marked down before their Community Shield clash with United on Sunday.
The Stamford Bridge side are 5/6 to win the game at the Nordbank Arena, with the home side 5/2 to inflict a third successive defeat on the 13/8 title favourites.
Chelsea’s back-up goalkeepers have failed to impress in pre-season so it’s likely Hamburg will score in front of their home fans. WIth news of Ramires’ arrival imminent, though, Ancelotti’s players will want to prove thier worth – a 2-1 win for Chelsea is 7/1.