Wayne's World Cup in ruins

Metatarsal curse strikes again as Rooney is ruled out for six weeks - and it's bad news for Owen
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The Independent Football

The Boy Wonder has broken his fourth metatarsal - what else? - on his right foot, an injury which leaves England's plans in disarray a little over two weeks before Sven Goran Eriksson must finalise his 23-man squad for the finals. Manchester United issued a brief statement last night to say that Rooney had broken the bone next to the one that he fractured during Euro 2004 and that he would be out of action for six weeks.

It was a break in the fifth metatarsal that cut short Rooney's participation in Euro 2004, and with his departure England's hopes disappeared. That time the striker was out of action for 10 weeks, although injury to that bone is particularly difficult to ovecome.

To make matters worse, Newcastle's manager, Glenn Roeder admitted to worries about Michael Owen's chances of recovering in time for Germany. The problem for Eriksson is that while he has said that he would be prepared to take a risk with the fitness of a player he deemed vital to England's chances of lifting the trophy for the first time in 40 years, he now faces choosing a squad against a background of doubts over the fitness of five players. Aside from Rooney and Owen, his first-choice strike partnership, the Swede, who has delayed comment until today, also has doubts over three defenders, Sol Campbell, Ashley Cole and Ledley King. Rooney could even be held back until the later stages of the tournament.

Rooney left Stamford Bridge on crutches, after being taken off on a stretcher in the 78th minute when he fell awkwardly on his right foot following a legitimate challenge by Chelsea's Paulo Ferreira. The 20-year-old was carried off but initially Sir Alex Ferguson thought the injury might not be too bad and was upbeat about his prospects. That view changed after the club had arrived back in Manchester and had the injury scanned.

The concern when Rooney went down was obvious. Team-mate Ruud van Nistelrooy immediately called for a stretcher while other players ran over. "When a player is taken off you are always concerned and we have hadquite a few this season," Ferguson said.

It is impossible to exaggerate the importance to England's chances in Germany and the chant of the United supporters - "there goes our World Cup" - as Rooney left the field is beginning to look horribly prescient. There must be something about Rooney and Portuguese defenders. It was a challenge with Jorge Andrade that ended his, and effectively his country's, participation in Euro 2004.

Ironically, Rooney had already inadvertently inflicted an injury on his England team-mate, John Terry, in the first half after he caught the defender late and on his outstretched foot. "The Rooney tackle on JT [Terry] was a nasty one - 10 stitches," Jose Mourinho said. But the Chelsea manager then added that Terry, who played the full 90 minutes before again collecting the Premiership trophy, would recover quickly. "One week and he'll be ready," he said.

In his post-match press conference Mourinho, who had thrown his championship medal into the crowd because "I already have one", said he would stay as Chelsea manager and try to win a hat-trick of titles "unless the club sack me" after being asked if there was any significance to him throwing away his momentos.

He also launched a bitter tirade on the lack of recognition he feels he has received in England and Portugal for his achievements. "I feel in my country there are still a number of rats waiting for my mistakes," he said.

Mourinho questioned why, for example, he has been named as Premiership manager of the month only twice in the two years he has been at Chelsea and said it was not his fault if more is spent on his team than on others because his club have to pay inflated prices.

"I think in terms of a manager being recognised for what he can do it [Chelsea] is the worst club," he said of how other clubs react to him. "You can achieve, you can win but it's never enough.

"I have thought a couple of times 'close the door and say goodbye'. Not at that moment but at the end of the season. I'm very happy to stay. Roman [Abramovich], Eugene [Tenenbaum, a director], Peter Kenyon [the chief executive]. It is a pleasure to work for them."

However, Mourinho, who also threatened to leave last season, added: "Chelsea is today always [seen] in a negative way and for professionals it is difficult. I'm happy to stay but the feeling is always a negative feeling.

"It is the fourth time in a row I've won a championship and I should be the happiest manager in the world. At this moment I'm not. It makes me sick because I want to be happy." It was an extraordinary tirade in victory but, for once, it did not grab the headlines.

Foot Imperfect: England and the metatarsal bone

DAVID BECKHAM: April 2002. Broke second metatarsal of left foot. Out for 9 weeks.

GARY NEVILLE: April '02. Fifth metatarsal, left foot. 21 weeks.

DANNY MURPHY: June '02. Second left metatarsal. 11 weeks.

WAYNE ROONEY: June 'O4. Fifth metatarsal, right foot. 10 weeks.

STEVEN GERRARD: Sept '04. Fifth metatarsal, right foot. 8 weeks.

SCOTT PARKER: Dec '04. Second metatarsal, right foot. 4 months.

ASHLEY COLE: Oct '05. Fifth metatarsal, right foot. 5 months.

MICHAEL OWEN: Dec '05. Fifth metatarsal, right foot. 5 months

LEDLEY KING: April '06. Fourth metatarsal, left foot. 3 weeks.

ROONEY: April '06. Fourth metatarsal in right foot. 6 weeks.