Shooting, dribbling, juggling: Rooney ready for final verdict

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Wayne Rooney said that he felt "fine" after England's first training session in Germany yesterday and to prove the point returned that afternoon for another run-out behind closed doors that involved shooting practice with both feet. He returns to Manchester this lunchtime, for the crucial scan on his broken metatarsal, convinced that he is ready to play some part in the World Cup finals.

Asked yesterday how his foot felt, Rooney replied: "It feels fine." The 20-year-old participated in only certain elements of England's training session at a small athletics stadium deep in the Black Forest, but he showed that he can strike a ball with both feet. There were none of the scissor-kicks that he exhibited during Monday's training session in Watford but Rooney, Sven Goran Eriksson said, "is 300 per cent confident" he will recover in time.

After throwing the doors to their training camp open to an audience of local schoolchildren and media, the Football Association waited until they had some privacy later that afternoon to bring Rooney back for some work with the ball. At 4pm he returned with reserve goalkeepers David James and Scott Carson and took free-kicks and penalties as well as leaping for headers.

It was a sign that Rooney, at the very least, believes he is ready to play football again soon, although Eriksson ruled out the prospect of the striker playing any part in the game against Paraguay on Saturday. Rooney first kicked a ball under the supervision of Manchester United last Friday although he has still not participated in a match situation or faced a tackle.

A private plane will take Rooney back to Manchester this morning and he will go to the BUPA hospital in the city's Whalley Range district to have the fourth metatarsal of his right foot scanned. In attendance will be the FA doctor Leif Sward, United's assistant doctor Tony Gill and an unnamed specialist from the hospital who will make the final decision on whether the player is fit to take part.

It will be a daunting task for the specialist in question who will know that it is his professional reputation on the line should Rooney break down again at any time in Germany. Sir Alex Ferguson is on holiday in France and will not be there but he is likely to be consulted should the United and FA doctors not come to an agreement on the state of Rooney's recovery.

Eriksson needs to know by Friday at the very least so he can decide whether to exclude Rooney altogether and bring in the reserve, Jermain Defoe, who has travelled and trained with England. Both United and the FA are keen to avoid a major dispute over the decision, especially as United's chief executive David Gill has recently been elected to the main board of the FA.

The FA have said in the past that an announcement on Rooney is to be expected today and, if the news is good, the player will come back to Germany this evening. However, that may have now changed. Sources at United have indicated that the club only expect to have a detailed discussion about the results of Rooney's scan late tonight and his return to Germany could be delayed until tomorrow.

In his first training session yesterday, Rooney mainly did running in the company of fitness coach Ivan Carminati. He was not the only injured player, Ashley Cole played no part in the session and David Beckham also joined the Arsenal player in laps of the pitch. Steven Gerrard withdrew late with a back problem that Eriksson said was not serious. It was left to Gary Neville to sound a note of caution about Rooney's recovery. The Manchester United captain said that although he wanted Rooney to come back, the priority was ensuring England have a fit, strong first XI.

"I want to make sure Jermain Defoe is out here training with us because if Wayne Rooney is not quite right we have to bring Defoe in," Neville said. "We need four fit strikers going into this tournament and there can be no room for sentiment. I want Wayne to be here but I want fit players alongside me just as they want a fit right-back. Once we know one way or the other whether Wayne Rooney is going to be part of this England World Cup squad, then we can deal with it.

"The lad has a broken foot and you do have problems recovering from it, not just the break, the mental things. There are many obstacles before we even think of him in a match situation."