Rooney injury could be a good thing for England

The English press got what they secretly wanted at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday – a Wayne Rooney injury scare.

The sight of the England striker hobbling off at the end United’s Champions League quarter final defeat to Bayern Munich was all that was needed for the front pages to be cleared and filled with attention seeking, copy selling, England World Cup scare stories.

It is like 2006 all over again.

The only saving grave on this occasion was that the injury does not look as bad as the one sustained at Stamford Bridge four years ago.

A sprained ankle, or even ligament damage, is not as bad as a broken bone, and can heal quicker. The recovery time has been estimated as between three and six weeks.

Of course this will be terrible news for Manchester United fans, who have seen Rooney become their talisman this season, scoring 34 goals. Without him their attack is considerably weaker and their chances of lifting the Premier League title will take a severe hit.

But Rooney also carries a similar burden for England, and many believe he is our only chance of progressing at the World Cup and maybe even winning it. There’s no doubt England’s World Cup 2010 betting odds would lengthen dramatically if he was ruled out of the tournament.

So Rooney spending a few weeks on the sidelines might be a good thing for the Three Lions. After all if he were to miss six weeks, essentially the rest of the season, England could ease him back into training ahead of the big kick-off.

However, this won’t happen at United as he will be more than likely rushed back half fit. This has already been shown with a knee problem he has had for nearly a month, though United refused to rest him until he hobbled out of Old Trafford following the Liverpool game on crutches last week.

England’s hopes at major tournaments over the past decade have been damaged by injuries to key players. A lot of people point to the large number of games the players play during a tough domestic season as a reason for that. But in this case it may work in England’s favour, with Rooney shielded from the final violent blows of a Premier League title battle leaving him fresh for the showpiece in South Africa in June. It might be worth having a sneaky online bet on him being top scorer while he recuperates, the injury could make the odds more attractive.

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