Manchester United legend Wayne Rooney to make English football return against Barnsley FC

Wayne Rooney. PIC: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images.
Wayne Rooney. PIC: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images.
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BARNSLEY are set to be Wayne Rooney's first opponents as the former Manchester United striker prepares to make his return to English football on Thursday night.

The Red Devils and England record goalscorer watched from the dugout yesterday evening as Derby County beat Charlton Athletic 2-1 to record their first win since November.

Wayne Rooney. PIC: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Wayne Rooney. PIC: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Rooney is eligible to play for the Rams from tomorrow, January 1, following his move from MLS side DC United.

Barnsley head into the fixture on the back of five-game unbeaten run and will be tasked with shackling the former England captain with County's Krystian Bielik and Tom Lawrence suspended for the fixture.

"If a player with the qualities, career and the experience of Rooney (is available) you have to be very happy and glad he is here, so I don't need a suspension to consider him in the first 11 to be honest," said Derby manager Phillip Cocu.

"He's fit, he can start but he will need a few games.

"Expectation will be high when he starts playing but we have to give him a few games to build up his minutes and get in the team.

"So maybe not perfect from the start but it's important he will get in the team as soon as possible so we get a certain shape in our team."

The sides drew 2-2 in their other league meeting this season, with Cauley Woodrow's last-gasp equaliser rescuing a point for the Tykes at Oakwell.

The Reds will move out of the relegation zone on Thursday night with a win, providing Stoke City fail to secure victory at Huddersfield Town tomorrow afternoon.