Rooney eyes top spot

MANCHESTER - Wayne Rooney has urged reigning champions Manchester United to take full advantage of their games in hand and leave themselves looking down on the rest of the Premier League once again.

MANCHESTER - Wayne Rooney has urged reigning champions Manchester United to take full advantage of their games in hand and leave themselves looking down on the rest of the Premier League once again.

United can hit the top of the table, for a brief spell at least, should they claim maximum points from their two games in hand, starting with today's visit of Wigan Athletic to Old Trafford.

England striker Rooney has no intentions of basking in the glow of Sunday's thumping win over title rivals Chelsea and is keen to look forward instead of back.

Rooney insists all United are bothered about is reaching the Premier League summit as quickly as possible to increase the pressure on current leaders Liverpool, who still have to visit Old Trafford this season.

"It's down to us," he said. "If we win our two games we'll be top of the league."

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is expected to be without influential defender Rio Ferdinand once again due to back trouble. Ferdinand has been suffering spasms and was forced to miss his side's win over Chelsea.

Ferguson admits his absence is a big blow, though he has been full of praise for the England international's replacement at the heart of United's defence, Jonny Evans , who is just 21.

Wigan manager Steve Bruce takes his in-form side to Old Trafford on the back of an incredible run of six wins in the past seven league games, but is more concerned with the future of Emile Heskey.

The England striker has been linked with moves to Liverpool and Aston Villa but Bruce has warned him leaving the JJB Stadium could ruin his hopes of being involved in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa because Wigan play to his strengths. - Sapa-AFP

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