Suggestions that there is no way back for Wayne Rooney at Manchester United are wildly premature.

Such is the scrutiny on his lackadaisical performances, Rooney was probably relieved to be moved aside against Leicester City on Saturday.

The 30-year-old’s relaxed nature on the substitutes’ bench throughout United’s 4-1 win suggested exactly that.

Accepting that spells of inactivity at Old Trafford are inevitable could be the first step to preserving his future at the club.

And when playing minutes are on offer, United’s captain should settle for a less dynamic role in the side.

Gary Neville expressed that view while covering the game for Sky Sports.

“This is a transition into a new phase of his career, where he’s potentially got to play a different way”, said Neville.

“No player at 22 is the same at 32, 33, 34. If you look at Paul Scholes, he went from a marauding midfielder to a holding player, Giggs from a flying winger to a central midfield player.

Rooney should not use his age – he only turns 31 next month - as an excuse not to take a backseat role.

Such concerns are countered by the mileage on legs worked significantly harder than most players the same age.

England’s captain had played more matches than both Giggs and Scholes by the age of 20 – considerably more than the latter, who had appeared just 18 times.

Rooney had played more often than both by the age of 30, too.

Indeed, that Giggs had to settle for less game-time after a post-30th birthday slump - and Scholes only made more than 40 appearances in a season once more - suggests Rooney’s longevity so far compares favourably to theirs.

His reputation would not be soured were he to follow the path lit by previous United heroes.

In fact, he’d be increasing the chances of elevating himself into their levels of legend.

For now, perhaps, Rooney should be targeting 34-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s spot in Jose Mourinho’s side.

The Swede’s leg-work is minimal. He drifts in and out of games but makes decisive contributions at crucial moments.

Rooney’s recent failings are down to pure exhaustion and constant scrutiny – but he is capable of emulating his team-mate’s efforts if utilised less frequently.

Ibrahimovic will not play every match this season. Rooney is capable of replacing – or partnering – him when the need arises.

Of course, a midfield role is still an option. Particularly when United are looking to slow the tempo of a game and keep the ball.

But against Leicester it was so evident what United’s energetic midfield setup was capable of without him.

Rooney must accept that his best chance of further extending a United career is to continue plundering goals upfront.

This is a player, remember, who has scored more for England than anybody and is just three away from matching that record at club level.

He is a phenomenal goal-getter.

But it is evident that he has run too many miles and shouldered too many burdens to maintain first-name-on-the-teamsheet status.

Scholes and Giggs wrote themselves in the history books by working through the same problems and reinventing their games.

Rooney must now do the same.