Ferguson pulls rank as FA is banned from Rooney scan

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The Independent Online

The MRI scan that the English football nation has been waiting for takes place today on the fourth metatarsal bone of Wayne Rooney's right foot, but it will be undertaken without a Football Association official in the room. Manchester United have not invited any of Sven Goran Eriksson's medical staff and will make their own assessment of the 20-year-old's progress before they release the results.

Two days after sacking his club doctor Mike Stone, Sir Alex Ferguson is determined to take control of the debate over Rooney's fitness and, in the case of this latest scan, knowledge will be power. Eriksson had hoped to discuss publicly the details of Rooney's scan after tonight's B international against Belarus at the Madejski stadium, but the England manager is not likely to find out from United until tomorrow the state of the striker's fitness.

The FA doctor Leif Sward will not be present when Rooney's broken foot is examined and United are expected to keep those aware of the prognosis limited in the extreme. While Dr Stone was at home in Cheshire yesterday reflecting on his unceremonious sacking from Old Trafford, those likely to be at Rooney's side will be Ferguson, the assistant club doctor Tony Gill and the physiotherapist Rob Swire.

Privately, United have expressed dismay at the leaks and pronouncements around Rooney's fitness. He is not yet sufficiently recovered to be able to run and has been described as "weeks away" from being able to kick a ball.

Dr Stone's dismissal, revealed in The Independent yesterday, has dominated the Rooney agenda but club sources are insistent that his departure was not related to the handling of the player's injury or his readiness to play in the World Cup finals. Instead, they have indicated that Dr Stone was just one in a long line to make an ostensibly minor mistake that earned from Ferguson a most severe punishment.

There has been disquiet at United at the way in which Eriksson has built up the importance of today's scan in deciding whether Rooney will be fit enough for the tournament in Germany next month. On Monday Eriksson said in reference to the scan "we will know much better what the situation is" but privately United are scornful of any suggestion that it will indicate definitively that Rooney will recover in time.

The dismissal of Dr Stone came as a shock to Rooney, who had formed a close relationship with him. Dr Stone refused to comment yesterday but is understood to be shocked and hurt.

It was Dr Stone who was the chief point of contact for Dr Sward, although the FA's access to Rooney has been extremely limited. The Swedish doctor, recruited by Eriksson, visited Manchester to meet Dr Stone on 4 May. It is unclear whether Dr Sward was allowed to examine Rooney and Eriksson has not spoken to the player face to face since he suffered the injury on 29 April.

Fifa requires the FA to confirm by Tuesday that Rooney will be fit to play. It would appear inevitable that, unless there are major objections from United, the England medical staff will tell the governing body that Rooney should be fit by 9 June. They can still replace him up to that day.

Matters may well come to a head next week when the England team will be based in Manchester and will play at Old Trafford and train at the club's Carrington headquarters, where Rooney is being treated.

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