Rooney allegedly punches Rovers defender

DPA , LONDON

Sat, Sep 09, 2006 - Page 19

Wayne Rooney's turbulent career has added another controversial episode as allegations emerged that he punched Blackburn defender Michael Gray in an altercation in a restaurant last Sunday.

The England forward was in the Panacea restaurant in Manchester with his fiancee, Coleen McLoughlin, and three other couples when Gray, himself a former England international, approached their table.

An argument ensued, during which it is alleged that Rooney, while still seated, punched the Blackburn Rovers defender, leaving him with a black eye.

It is understood that Gray has given a full account of the incident to his club manager, Mark Hughes.

"Wayne and Coleen were enjoying a night out with three other couples and were having a quiet dinner when Michael came up to their table uninvited," a spokesman for the striker said.

"Michael then began making a number of remarks which were offensive to Coleen and Wayne's other female guests.

"Several times, Wayne asked Michael to leave. It was a brief incident and as far as Wayne is concerned, he bears no ill feeling towards Michael," the spokesman said.

Rooney is serving a domestic ban of three matches after being sent off for elbowing an opponent in a pre-season tournament in the Netherlands.

He missed England's win over Macedonia FYR on Wednesday through suspension after receiving a red card for stamping on Ricardo Carvalho during the World Cup quarter-final.