WAYNE ROONEY could return to Everton if Rafa Benitez is forced off the pitch.
Everton Majority owner Farhad Moshiri is desperate for the Spaniard to succeed after becoming his fifth manager appointed at Goodison Park.
But Moshiri and his board know they must have a backup plan if they remove the former Liverpool leader Benitez.
SunSport understands that informal lines of communication have been established between him and the club where he began his playing career.
Rooney, 36, has repeatedly insisted he will stick with the Rams despite their current predicament.
The debt-ridden Midland team is 15 points behind the bottom of the table and 21 points deducted by the EFL.
They have managed for 11 weeks.
American business magnate Chris Kirchner wants to finalize the takeover but is waiting to see if HMRC will cut its outstanding £30m tax bill.
Rooney has earned admiration for his loyalty after succeeding Phillip Cocu 13 months ago.
He has a severely depleted squad, plays decent football and gets results.
However, it will be difficult for Rooney to turn down the opportunity to return to Goodison for a second time.
He returned for a season in 2017 when he left United for a record £27m transfer at the age of 18.
Benitez is under pressure again after Sunday’s 3-1 defeat to Crystal Palace and on Thursday brought the 14th-placed Toffees to another of his former clubs, Chelsea.
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And Benitez’s hopes of turning his fortunes around were severely damaged following a string of injuries to Richarlison, Andros Townsend and captain Seamus Coleman in the Palace defeat.
Scans showed Brazilian striker Richarlison, 24, had torn his calf and will be sidelined for a number of weeks.
Townsend suffered a broken foot and will be reviewed by specialists later this week while Coleman, who has bone bruising and soft tissue damage, will also be evaluated over the next few days.
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https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/football/17041554/wayne-rooney-everton-manager-rafa-benitez/ Wayne Rooney lined up to return to Everton as sensational BOSS if Goodison tops out against Rafa Benitez