London: A week after his petulant sending-off while on international duty, Wayne Rooney's temperament will be back under the spotlight on Saturday when Manchester United takes on fierce rival Liverpool in arguably the biggest match in English football.
Rooney was dismissed when he kicked out wildly at Montenegro defender Miodrag Dzudovic in England's 2-2 draw in Podgorica last Friday, ensuring he'll miss the start of next summer's European Championship and underlining his reputation as his country's most talented but reckless player.
His character will be tested again on Saturday when United, the Premier League leader, heads to Anfield for what is notoriously a fiery northwest derby between England's two most successful clubs.
With second-place Manchester City only behind United on goal difference ahead of its home match against Aston Villa on Saturday, United manager Alex Ferguson will be relying on Rooney to fire the goals against Liverpool to keep the reigning champions on top.
"He's got a fiery temper and, to my mind, (the red card) is not the worse thing in the world," Ferguson is quoted by United's website as telling American radio station Sirius XM this week.
"Obviously, he'll be disappointed ... but he's shown tremendous improvement in terms of temperament and his reaction to tackles over the last few years."
It is sure to be a typically hostile atmosphere at Anfield in a match between two teams that have won the English league 37 times between them. United last season usurped Liverpool's haul of 18 titles.
Rooney, United's top scorer in the league this season with nine goals, has never hidden his dislike of Liverpool, which stems from spending the formative years of his career with Merseyside rival Everton before a move to Old Trafford in 2004.
In 2009, United was forced to remove quotes from Rooney from the club's website after his comments about "hating" Liverpool were deemed inappropriate ahead of a match between the rivals at Old Trafford.
Liverpool has been inconsistent in its first seven matches, although a 2-0 win at Everton before the international break lifted the team to fifth — six points behind United.
Manager Kenny Dalglish could hand fit-again captain Steven Gerrard his first start in seven months.