Rooney To Start Against Ružomberok

by Adam Clark

Wayne Rooney will make his first competitive start since rejoining Everton in Thursday night’s Europa League meeting with MFK Ružomberok, manager Ronald Koeman has confirmed.

The Academy graduate, who scored 17 goals in 77 appearances for the Club before moving to Manchester United in 2004, made a dramatic return to Goodison Park earlier this month.

And, having netted in pre-season friendlies against Gor Mahia and KRC Genk, the 31-year-old will now be afforded a much-anticipated homecoming against the Slovakians in the third round qualifying first leg.

Koeman could offer five further summer signings their Goodison bows on Thursday and, speaking at his pre-match press conference, the Blues boss said: “Wayne will start tomorrow. In what position I will not say but he will be in the team.

“I think it will be a warm welcome for Wayne coming back to his club but that’s also the same for the rest of the new players.

“Some of them will be included in the squad for tomorrow and we know the fans will support all the players and the team.

“We need that support from the beginning to get into Europe because that’s what we want to do.”

Everton have never before played a competitive game in the month of July, and with the team having reported back for pre-season training only three-and-a-half weeks ago, Koeman accepts he will need to pick the right team to tackle opponents who returned to domestic action in the Slovakian Fortuna Liga last weekend.

He added: “It’s maybe not the best 11. I don’t know what the best 11 is - maybe I’ll know it at the end of the transfer window.

“But now, at this stage, it’s also about the physical part of the player, the individual levels. Finally you make your mind up and you put the best 11 on the pitch to start tomorrow.

“It’s not normal that the manager needs to make already tough decisions after three weeks of pre-season. I need to choose the 11 who need to start, the seven players who can be on the bench and some players I need to leave them out of the quad, and they’re decisions that normally you do not need to make at this stage. It makes a difference but we know it, we like being in Europe and it’s up to us to be ready for tomorrow night.

“The team is looking good. We had a disappointment with the injury to Ross Barkley and the injury to Ramiro Funes Mori and we know the long-term injuries of [Seamus] Coleman and [Yannick] Bolasie. But the rest of the players are really fit and prepared for the game.”

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