By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens
Wayne Rooney is on the substitute’s bench for Manchester United’s Boxing Day clash at Stoke.
The United skipper has been dropped from the team that lost 2-1 to Norwich last Saturday as Ander Herrera is given the nod to start.
That is the only change made by manager Louis van Gaal, whose team have lost three consecutive matches and have not won in six.
Marouane Fellaini is preferred to Morgan Schneiderlin in central midfield, while Juan Mata and Memphis Depay continue on the flanks.
Van Gaal’s decision to bench Rooney is likely to prompt speculation about the position of the England captain, who has scored just two Premier League goals this season.
The 30-year-old has been a virtual ever-present at Old Trafford during the last decade, with Van Gaal following David Moyes and Sir Alex Ferguson by selecting him whenever he is fit and available to play.
Rooney admitted in a Christmas Eve interview that he was off form: “I know that I have not been playing well,” he said:
Stoke: Butland; Johnson, Shawcross, Wollscheid, Pieters; Whelan, Cameron; Arnautovic, Afellay, Shaqiri; Bojan. Subs: Haugaard, Joselu
United team: De Gea; Young, Smalling, Jones, Blind; Carrick, Fellaini; Mata, Herrera Depay; Martial. Subs: Romero, Borthwick-Jackson, McNair, Varela, Pereira, Schneiderlin, Rooney.