England winger Theo Walcott has admitted his shock at the extent of the head injury his international team-mate Wayne Rooney suffered in a training ground accident.
Rooney has been ruled out of England’s crucial World Cup qualifiers against Moldova on Friday, and Ukraine on Tuesday, due to a deep cut to his head when Manchester United colleague Phil Jones caught him with a stray boot during training.
Jones, who is also in Roy Hodgson’s squad for the back-to-back matches, left a three-inch cut on the striker’s forehead which required 10 stitches to be inserted into his forehead, and Walcott has explained after seeing images of the cut that it is not a pleasant sight.
“I have seen a picture and it is a very, very big gash,” said Walcott. “It's not nice to see. It's like something out of a horror film.
“I have seen the actual injury and it is not a nice sight to be honest. It is not going to help his looks I wouldn't think.”
The absence of Rooney adds to Hodgson’s attacking injury crisis, with in-form Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge sitting out training yesterday with a thigh injury. Hodgson is already without the injury Andy Carroll, while Jermaine Defoe also sat out training, leaving the England boss with just Danny Welbeck and Rickie Lambert fit to train.
Sturridge’s impressive start to the season continued when he scored the only goal in the weekend’s 1-0 victory over Manchester United, his fifth goal in four matches this campaign, but Walcott is still hopeful that the 24-year-old will feature against Moldova.
“It is sad to see but it is an opportunity for someone to come in and take their chance,” said Walcott.
“It is great to see Danny (Sturridge) still here at the moment, that's a positive. Danny Welbeck has started the season well for his club and Rickie Lambert has had a great start to his England career, so the manager has some great options.”
The two qualifiers are hugely important for the Three Lions, who sit in second place in Group H two points behind leaders Montenegro with a game in hand. However, third-place Ukraine sit just a point behind them, and with just the group winners automatically qualifying for next summer’s tournament – the eight best runners-up go into the play-offs – England are finding themselves in a situation where they can’t afford to drop points.
Hodgson is considering resting Sturridge for Friday’s match if it means he will be fit for Tuesday’s tie against Ukraine, although any slip-up against Moldova could prove costly with England expected to easily dispatch the 123rd ranked side in the world.