Rooney returns

WAYNE Rooney has got over his foot injury and will play at the World Cup when the striker and Sven-Goran Eriksson decide he is ready, the England manager said yesterday.

“The good news from yesterday evening and today is that Rooney has no more injury, he is injury

free,” Eriksson told a news conference at their training ground.

“Now it’s up to us to get him match fit and when we think he is match fit I am prepared to take in any specialist we or Manchester United want to take in.

“I’m prepared to listen to everyone and discuss Rooney with them. But the last say in this story is Rooney’s and mine.”

Rooney’s club United had said late on Wednesday that the striker, who broke his foot on April 29, could be cleared to play after England’s Group B campaign ends on June 20 against Sweden — subject to a “very careful assessment”.

In sharp contrast to the cautious note struck by United after Rooney’s scan in Manchester on Wednesday, a bullish Eriksson made it clear he was in charge and would play him.

Although Rooney took part in full training on Thursday, he will almost certainly miss Saturday’s opener with Paraguay. However Eriksson’s upbeat attitude suggests he may come on as a substitute against Trinidad & Tobago or Sweden.

Angus Wallace, a professor of orthopaedic surgery at the University of Nottingham will provide expert opinion on the timing of the explosive 20-year-old’s World Cup debut.

“Professor Wallace this morning assured me that he will be here when we think he (Rooney) is match fit,” Eriksson said.

The Swede added: “I’m doing this in the best interests of Rooney, the England team and 40 million England fans.

“I’m responsible for it and I don’t want any more discussions about Rooney until I tell you I think he’s match fit.
“I don’t want my players talking about Wayne Rooney’s foot or injury. I hope you respect that.”

Eriksson, in terse mood and clearly fed up with the media circus that has surrounded Rooney’s injury for the past six weeks, then stood up and left the news conference.

Despite Eriksson’s request, England’s players could not conceal their delight at Rooney’s return and the prospect of him playing at the finals.

Captain David Beckham told a news conference: “It’s nice that all the squad now are fit and back in training . . . we’re all happy he’s back training with us.”

Beckham, who suffered a broken metatarsal like Rooney’s before the 2002 World Cup, was asked about coming back from such an injury to match fitness.

“There are always difficulties, because when you haven’t played for a while and you’ve had an injury like a broken bone it is tough.

“I know you’re talking about Wayne, but he’s done fitness tests the same as the lads have done and his fitness levels are up there with the rest of us.

“He’ll play when he feels like he’s ready and that will obviously be down to the management.”

Midfielder Steven Gerrard, Rooney’s friend and a fellow Liverpudlian, was more forthright.

“What I can say is he’s really buzzing over getting the all-clear and so is the rest of the squad.

“It’s great news for him to get the all-clear — now we need to get him match fit as the manager said.

“I think we need to be patient with that because you can’t really throw a player into a World Cup game who is not really match fit.”

As for the effect on team morale, Gerrard said: “It definitely gives us a massive lift.

“He’s our key player and he’s our best player. So you know he helps our chances of going all the way in the tournament, definitely.”

Rooney, showing no ill-effects from Wednesday’s round trip to Manchester, had earlier limbered up with his team mates at a sunlit training ground near their Baden-Baden hotel.

Though it was closed to the media after 15 minutes, Gerrard later told a news conference Rooney played a full part in the session.  Rooney had previously been continuing his rehabilitation separately from the rest of the squad — running, turning and spraying long passes across the training pitch.