Tue, May 02, 2006 - Page 18 News List

England coach hopes Wayne Rooney is quick healer

AP , LONDON

England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson said on Sunday he would select Wayne Rooney in his World Cup squad if he thinks the injured player has any chance to play in the later rounds.

The Manchester United striker broke a bone in his right foot during United's 3-0 loss at Chelsea on Saturday and club officials say he will be out of action for six weeks.

England's first World Cup game is against Paraguay on June 10, six weeks to the day Rooney was injured. The 20-year-old forward may not be fit for the Paraguay match or first-round group games against Trinidad & Tobago and Sweden, but Eriksson may take him to Germany in the hope England makes it to the next phase.

"It is too early to know if he is going to have a chance to be fit or not, but if we think he has a chance then I will pick him," Eriksson told Sky Sports News.

"It is a hope and it is a hope for all England fans. We are talking about Wayne Rooney, he is one of the best players in the world and he is extremely important for us, so if we think he has a chance to get fit during the World Cup then of course we will pick him."

Eriksson, who must submit his 23-man roster to FIFA by May 15, said he would be in regular talks with the Manchester United medical staff to see how fast Rooney recovers from his broken foot.

"I think we have to look at it closer to the World Cup," he said. "For anyone to say today it will take six weeks, it will take eight weeks, it is difficult for anyone to say that.

"I hope the World Cup is not over for Wayne Rooney. I hope so for him, for the team, for the fans because he is extremely important for us.

"If the medical team tell me he has no chance then I will not pick him. If he can take part later in the World Cup then he will be picked."

Eriksson did get some good news Sunday.

An X-ray revealed Rooney's regular striking partner Michael Owen did not aggravate his own foot injury playing for Newcastle on Saturday.

Owen had been in discomfort after a 30-minute appearance against Birmingham, his first game since breaking a foot bone Dec. 31. But Newcastle said a scan had shown no damage.

The Magpies issued a statement citing a specialist saying it was normal for a player to feel pain in the first couple of games back after an injury of this type.

Eriksson, who was at Saturday's Chelsea-Manchester United game, is due to select a provisional 26-man squad May 8 and trim it to 23 by May 15. Coaches can replace players injured after that but not those hurt before.

Bobby Robson, who led England to the World Cup semifinal in 1990, said Sunday that Rooney's absence would turn England from one of the favorites to an outsider.

"The news about Wayne is depressingly sad," Robson told BBC Radio 5. "You cannot replace Rooney. I don't think there's another player like him in the country or in Europe. He's a very special player and without him our chances are dim.

"People who win World Cups are top individuals. Who won the World Cup for Argentina in 1986? I'll tell you -- it was Diego Maradona."

With Owen, Ledley King, John Terry, Sol Campbell, Ashley Cole and Wayne Bridge either injured or trying to recover from long absences from the game, England is having similar problems to those it had before the last World Cup.

Steven Gerrard, Gary Neville and Danny Murphy all were ruled out of the 2002 edition in South Korea and Japan after being injured during the buildup, while captain David Beckham was evidently unfit even though he made the squad.

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