Fri, Apr 02, 2010 - Page 19 News List

Rooney pain looms large over Chelsea showdown

AGENCIES , LONDON

England and Manchester United soccer player Wayne Rooney leaves a hotel in Munich on Wednesday.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Wayne Rooney will miss between two to four weeks because of a sprained ankle, a person close to Manchester United said yesterday.

The England striker was hurt in the final minute of Tuesday’s 2-1 Champions League loss at Bayern Munich. The person, who can’t be identified because the news hasn’t been officially released, said that Rooney hadn’t broken any bones.

Later, a club spokeswoman told ManUtd.com that he had not suffered a fracture. The scan revealed only minor ligament damage, without saying how many games he will miss.

Rooney scored his 34th goal of the season in the second minute of the game at Allianz Arena.

Although Rooney is expected to be fit for the June 11 to July 11 World Cup, England coach Fabio Capello said the injury was terrible news.

Capello said on Wednesday: “I’m not happy when a player from the England team is injured, it’s terrible. It’s not a good thing for me. I will speak to him this evening or tomorrow morning.”

Rooney is set to miss tomorrow’s Premier League match with Chelsea at Old Trafford. The result is likely to have a major effect on the title race, with United a point ahead of Chelsea at the top of the standings.

An absence of two weeks would rule Rooney out of three games: League matches against Chelsea and Blackburn and the Champions League return leg against Bayern.

Three weeks would mean Rooney also misses the derby at Manchester City. If out for a month, the striker will be sidelined for the league game against Tottenham and possibly a Champions League semifinal against Lyon or Bordeaux — if United qualifies.

With Michael Owen out for the rest of the season, United is left with Dimitar Berbatov as the team’s only senior forward until Rooney returns.

United will point to last weekend’s 4-0 win over Bolton Wanderers as evidence that they can do well without him and Dimitar Berbatov, who scored two in that game, certainly seemed to enjoy the extra responsibility of leading the line.

However, Chelsea are another kettle of fish and Rooney, with 34 club goals this season, will be hugely missed in what could be the pivotal game of the whole campaign.

“Obviously you want your full squad fit at this time of the season as every game is massive in the run-in so we are all hoping that Wayne is fit very soon,” Ryan Giggs said.

Italian teenager Federico Macheda, with five minutes of league action under his belt this season, could be brought into the fold.

Last April he hit a vital injury-time winner against Aston Villa on his debut to halt a run of two defeats, then scored the winner against Sunderland to help United secure a third successive title.

“Young Macheda’s had a terrible season with injuries, but he made a return against Bolton and we were absolutely delighted,” manager Alex Ferguson said of the striker. “He’s one of the most exceptional young strikers I’ve seen in my time at United. He has every chance of taking part in big matches.”

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