Return of Rooney closes door on Defoe's World Cup
Friday 09 June 2006
Not all the disappointment surrounding Wayne Rooney's return to Germany will have been confined to Manchester United. For Jermain Defoe, the sight of the smiling England No 9 waltzing through the doors of the team hotel on Wednesday night was confirmation that his World Cup was over.
Barring a dramatic injury to one of his fellow strikers over breakfast at the Schlosshotel Bühlerhöhe this morning, Defoe will be omitted from the final 23-man squad that Sven Goran Eriksson submits to Fifa, the world governing body, and be left with the stark choice of going home or prolonging the agony by remaining with the squad.
The England manager had confessed that the prospect of saying farewell to his stand-by striker after three weeks of with his colleagues was "horrible, I don't want to think about it", but, thanks to his preference for the untried Theo Walcott, that time has come.
David Beckham led the tributes to Defoe's professionalism yesterday, admitting: "It's always hard when players have been in a squad all the way and are still with us now, but whether he stays out with the team or whether he goes on holiday, Jermain is still one of the best strikers in Europe. He has been top, top class in training and he will be sadly missed."
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