Football

Big day for two strikers

Rooney eyeing 250th goal, Crouch guns for 100th EPL goal

STOKE CITY MAN UNITED

Two strikers will be in the spotlight when Manchester United visit Stoke City tonight.

Wayne Rooney continues his pursuit of the 250th goal for United to become the club's all-time leading scorer while in-form Stoke striker Peter Crouch is chasing his 100th Premier League goal, after netting his 99th in last weekend's victory over Sunderland.

Rooney has had to settle for a bit-part role in the league of late, but Stoke manager Mark Hughes is still a big admirer of the England skipper.

"It's been a little more difficult for him this year maybe, he hasn't started every game, but he's still an outstanding player and credit to him," said the former Man United striker.

"He's stuck at it and that longevity has allowed him to get in the position where he's got an opportunity to break the record.

"We hope it's not against us clearly, we'd much rather Crouchy got his 100th goal, which is really important to him.

"So hopefully, that'll be the case and Wayne will have to wait one week longer."

Wayne Rooney and Peter Crouch (above) were once strike partners for the England national team. PHOTOS: AFP, REUTERS

The visit to the Britannia tonight offers United the chance to exorcise some bad memories as Jose Mourinho's side look to reel in the Premier League's top four.

LOWEST POINT

United's lowest point of last season came in this fixture when, amid fevered speculation about Louis van Gaal's future as manager, they performed woefully and slipped to a 2-0 Boxing Day defeat.

Van Gaal, as it turned out, held on to his job for another five months before he was sacked to make way for current United boss Mourinho.

United are actually one place lower in the Premier League now than they were at the end of last season, but they are on the rise at the moment, having gone 16 matches unbeaten in all competitions.

Stoke earned a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford last October - a match in which Mourinho's side paid the price for failing to take their chances.

United midfielder Michael Carrick said that fixture is a warning that they must not be caught out again.

"Stoke have got some very good players and we know it's probably not the same going there now as it was seven or eight years ago," Carrick said.

"I think Mark Hughes has come away from the sort of long throw-ins and set-plays that put you constantly under pressure in your own box.

"He's brought in players who are technically very good and can play some exciting football. It's a different style but equally as tough."

Meanwhile, former Stoke and Liverpool winger Jermaine Pennant is back in English football after agreeing a short-term deal with League One side Bury.

The 33-year-old, who last played in England for Wigan in 2015, has penned terms with the struggling Shakers until the end of the season. Pennant played for S.League club Tampines Rovers last season and has been training at Bury's Carrington base for a number of weeks before agreeing a deal. - WIRE SERVICES

wayne rooneyManchester UnitedStoke City