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Fit-again Rooney sees writing on the wall from the great Thorpedo


If motivational sporting sound bites are your thing, then the Football Association's St George's Park has one for just about every situation and stencilled on every wall, even the hydrotherapy suite. In there it is the wisdom of the Australian Olympic champion swimmer Ian Thorpe, whose advice is: "Losing is not coming second. It's getting out of the water knowing you could have done better."

Asked later which of the slogans he had remembered from his tour around the building on Monday, Wayne Rooney said it was Thorpe's words that had stuck in his mind.

"It was the one in the swimming pool from Ian Thorpe," he said. "I think that is quite good. I don't know why that stuck in my mind, but it did."

The question of whether Rooney could have done more with his considerable talent has always been the subject of debate, in particular in the past six months – first when he went to Las Vegas at the end of last season when he was recovering from an operation on his toe, and in the knowledge that he was suspended for the first two games of Euro 2012.

Eyebrows were also raised at Sir Alex Ferguson's observation in August that Rooney had started the season without being match-fit.

He said: "I can understand and see where you are coming from [on the Las Vegas trip]. But I wasn't in Vegas going out every night drinking and partying. Obviously, I went out one night and that was seen. I couldn't train anyway. That is why I had the extra time off. I had to have something done to my toe. There was no treatment for me to get [back in Manchester]. Looking back, I can understand why maybe the fans weren't happy."

Was his fitness an issue at the start of the season? "Not really. I came back pre-season, did all my training and probably had one bad game. I am ready to play."

On Friday he will face San Marino in the first of two World Cup qualifiers which will, if nothing else, represent a good opportunity for him to climb the all-time England goalscorers' list. He lies eighth, with 29 goals.

The one list where his supremacy is not in question is his Twitter follower count, more than 5.1 million, making him the most followed sportsman in Britain. In a week when Ashley Cole (followers: 442,725) caused a storm with his tweet in criticism of the FA, it was interesting to hear Rooney's take on his social media profile. "You know everything you put on there is seen by everyone who follows you and it will be in the newspapers the next day, so you have to be careful," he said.