Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson has hinted that Wayne Rooney will be in his starting line-up for United’s FA Cup encounter with Rooney’s former team Everton.

Rooney will return to Everton for the first time since his £27m move to Old Trafford last year and is likely to get a hostile reception from the Everton supporters.

“I think he will handle it,” Ferguson told a news conference on Friday.

“The relationship between Everton and Manchester United over the years has been outstanding. There has never been any problem between the two clubs and hopefully that’s the same after tomorrow.

“For any player going back to his former club he will get a bit of stick. That happens all the time.

“In the modern day game you don’t have situations with clubs where you have the Ryan Giggs, the Gary Nevilles, Phil Nevilles and Paul Scholes who stay a lifetime at a club. Those days have gone.”

Rooney has scored 13 times for United this season, including six in his last nine games.

“He’s been fantastic. I don’t need to spell it out,” Ferguson added.

“The evidence is always on the football field and there’s terrific evidence there of a maturing player and a young lad who is getting better and better all the time.

“He’s in great form and the team is in great form. I’m very pleased at the determination they are showing.”