MANCHESTER (AFP) The feverish guessing game over Wayne Rooneys future is looming over Manchester United as they prepare to resume their Champions League campaign against Turkeys Bursaspor on Wednesday. Reports that Rooney has told his employers he wants to leave the club in the January transfer window have sent shockwaves rippling across English football, reflecting the seismic impact that the strikers departure would cause. United may have dismissed suggestions that Rooney will be sold as nonsense but Ferguson knows that failure to include the 24-year-old in his starting line-up on Wednesday can only fan the flames of intrigue. Ferguson left Rooney on the bench for Saturdays 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion, days after the player publicly contradicted the United bosss assertion that he was suffering from an ankle injury. It was the fourth time this season Ferguson has sidelined Rooney, reflecting a breakdown in relations with the England international which has passed the point of no return, if media reports are to be believed. Rooney is said to be furious with Ferguson over his perceived lack of support following tabloid revelations last month that he had cheated on his pregnant wife with two prostitutes. Ferguson, meanwhile, has accused Rooney of tarnishing Uniteds image through the sex scandal and other unflattering newspaper photos which showed the player smoking and urinating in public on a night out. It is possible that Rooneys defiance of Ferguson is part of a negotiating strategy designed to engineer substantially improved terms when his current 90,000 pounds per week deal ends in 18 months time. But it is a risky course of action for Rooney to be taking against Ferguson, the autocratic Old Trafford overlord who once gave an insight into management style with his credo that the manager can nivvah lose an argument. Time and again during his 24-year reign, Ferguson has demonstrated that he is unafraid to ship out marquee players who have outlived their usefulness. But the common thread linking David Beckham, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Roy Keane, to name but three victims of Fergusons ruthless streak, is that they were all past their prime when they were shown the door. And while Rooney has not yet been able to pull himself out of the nosedive in form that has afflicted him since the tail-end of last season, it is a fact that, given his youth, his best years may well still lie ahead of him. Recognition of this has encouraged some observers to believe that a face-saving solution may yet be found, that the prospect of Rooney leaving for Manchester City or Real Madrid may be too much for even Ferguson to stomach. Real coach Jose Mourinho, an admirer and friend of Ferguson, on Monday expressed scepticism that the rupture in relations between Rooney and the United manager was beyond repair and would lead to a transfer. I dont think he will (become available), Mourinho said of Rooney. I think the big man (Ferguson) will persuade him to stay. In any event, Real have distanced themselves from a possible move for Rooney with director Jorge Valdano saying there were no plans to strengthen the squad in the January transfer window. Almost overlooked in the farrago of rumour and speculation is the fact that United can put themselves in the qualification driving seat in Group C on Wednesday with a victory over Bursaspor. No-one will be more annoyed than Ferguson that the Rooney soap opera has reduced the tie with the Turkish champions to the status of an afterthought. With that in mind, it would be typical of Ferguson to wrong-foot the punditocracy once more by naming Rooney in his starting XI and duly watch him deliver a match-winning performance.