Injury crisis as Rooney goes crazy
White-hot England cruise to 4-0 romp but knocks for three strikers – and dodgy new kit – take gloss off Capello's day
Sunday 29 March 2009
England last night decided to call up Spurs striker Darren Bent and will wait anxiously for the result of a scan on Emile Heskey's calf today ahead of Wednesday's World Cup qualifying game at home to Ukraine. No fewer than three forwards were injured during the course of a straightforward 4-0 win over Slovakia yesterday evening.
West Ham's Carlton Cole, who came on for Heskey, hurt his groin after barely 15 minutes on the pitch and has been sent home. Peter Crouch, replacing Cole, then suffered a back problem but should be fit. Wayne Rooney was therefore forced to stay on for the full 90 minutes, taking advantage to score twice near the end as England recorded their second successive four-goal win at Wembley.
The pitch there has come under considerable criticism since the stadium was reopened, though Fabio Capello did not blame it for any of the injuries. Rio Ferdinand, who missed the game with a recurrence of a back strain, will be able to return on Wednesday against a Ukraine team who recently won 3-2 away to Slovakia and should present a stronger challenge.
"We played very well," Capello said. "We had good movement with and without the ball and made a lot of chances. Slovakia had a few chances and David James made fantastic saves. Rooney played very, very well. He's like a joker in the pack – a crazy joker!"
David Beckham replaced Aaron Lennon for the second half to beat Bobby Moore's record of 108 caps for an outfield player, and immediately supplied some of his trademark crosses as well as laying on Rooney's first goal. "I'm dedicating this to my family because they've been there through the good times and bad," he said.
On the domestic front, Chelsea's interim manager, Guus Hiddink, yesterday revealed he may stay with the club beyond the end of this season – but in the role of a consultant. The Dutchman, who is also Russia's coach, has a contract with Chelsea which runs until the end of May. Hiddink said: "They have asked me to continue working for them after that date as a consultant. Maybe I can be useful for Chelsea in that role."
Alexey Sorokin, a key figure from the Russian Football Association, claimed he was happy for Hiddink to continue his dual role.
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