Wayne Rooney plays quiet 60 minutes in return with Man United under-21s

Wayne Rooney continued his recovery from a knee injury by playing for an hour with Manchester United's under-21 team in a 1-0 win against Middlesbrough at Old Trafford on Monday night.

The United and England captain would have benefited from the workout ahead of Wednesday night's FA Cup quarterfinal replay at West Ham United, but this was a quiet showing from him.

After being substituted, he headed straight down the touchline and into the tunnel, ending his involvement as one of the permitted overage players on the night.

Rooney's most notable moments on his comeback after more than two months out were a curling free kick over the bar and a long-range effort into the arms of goalkeeper Joe Fryer. There were occasional touches of class, but he did not unduly trouble the Middlesbrough rearguard.

Brilliant feeling to be back playing at Old Trafford last night. Thanks to all the staff at @manchesterunited who have been helping me with my recovery 👍🏼

A photo posted by Wayne Rooney (@waynerooney) on

United manager Louis van Gaal and his assistant Ryan Giggs were both watching in the directors' box and face a dilemma over their selection on Wednesday night, with Marcus Rashford having been brought off at half-time in Sunday's 3-0 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur, and his replacement, Ashley Young having failed to fire.

Rooney has not played for the first team since 90 minutes against Sunderland on Feb. 3 and has missed 12 United matches, during which time they have exited the Europa League.

The United under-21s secured victory against Middlesbrough when Paddy McNair struck in with a half-volley, just five minutes after Rooney had been taken off.

Rooney was replaced by promising 18-year-old Alex Tuanzebe, another player who has suffered from a lengthy injury absence. The defender broke into the first-team squad when he was named to the bench in the 0-0 draw at Crystal Palace in October, but his progress has been stalled by an unspecified injury.

Two other first-team players who are battling back to fitness -- defenders Phil Jones and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson -- also played again. Both players featured a week earlier in the under-21s' 1-1 draw against Chelsea at Old Trafford.

Guillermo Varela was left out of the squad, meaning he could be in consideration for the match against West Ham -- as fellow defender Timothy Fosu-Mensah was injured in Sunday's 3-0 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur, so his participation at Upton Park is not assured.

Andreas Pereira's difficult time at United continued as he began on the bench, but he was eventually brought on in the 40th minute after an injury to Joe Rothwell caused by a reckless challenge from Middlesbrough captain Jonny Burn. Pereira hit the bar late on, but his prospects under Van Gaal do not look encouraging, judging by his lack of minutes.

There was also some concern over Donald Love, who was hobbling at the end of the game.