Fletch - Roo's been practicing

Scot says heading sequence is no coincidence

Rooney and Fletcher celebrate in San Siro

Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher has revealed team-mate Wayne Rooney has been practising heading in training.

The United striker has been in sensational form this season, netting 27 club goals in all competitions, the majority of which of late have come with his head.

Cristiano Ronaldo's departure to Real Madrid last summer has seen Rooney operate in a more advanced role this term, and the England striker has taken advantage of his new-found goal-scoring role.

Fletcher admits Rooney's aerial threat is no coincidence, claiming the 24-year-old's extra effort behind the scenes is now paying dividends on the field of play.

"People are seeing the rewards of the hard work he has put in on the training ground," said Fletcher of Rooney.

"It has been noted how many headed goals he has been scoring. But that comes form practice. He has risen to the challenge of being the goalscorer and his performances have improved.

"Wayne has matured and improved as a player. He has got stronger as the season has gone on and his confidence is growing.

"Really, he does believe he is up there with the best players in the world and his form is showing that."


United welcome seven-time European Cup winners AC Milan to Old Trafford on Wednesday in their UEFA Champions League second-round second leg.

Sir Alex Ferguson's men hold a 3-2 advantage from the first leg in the San Siro, and Fletcher admits European nights are what every player dreams of being involved in.

"You can't beat a Champions League night," said the Scotland skipper. "It is a competition all players want to play in.

"You are pitting yourself against the best players and the best teams in Europe. You have to try and rise to the challenge."

The match is expected to see the return of former United favourite David Beckham, who left the club for Real Madrid in 2003, and Fletcher has no doubts the home crowd will give the England international a warm reception.

"David is a massive global star and an example to all young footballers," said the 26-year-old.

"As a young player at Manchester United he was one of the players I looked up to. Obviously he has moved on from here and had a successful career.

"He is still battling for a place in the World Cup squad with England and will be out to impress everyone. I am sure he will get a good reception from our supporters.

"But once the game kicks off, all that friendship goes out of the window. Both teams just want to win the match."