United quiet on Rooney injury

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LONDON - As a nation held its collective breath for news of England forward Wayne Rooney's big World Cup injury scare, solid news was in short supply from any reliable source on Wednesday.

Manchester United offered no firm steer on England's talisman striker's welfare other than a message of 'wait and see' following his right ankle injury sustained in his club's 2-1 Champions League defeat at Bayern Munich the night before.

United would only confirm on their website on Wednesday that the Reds' medical staff "were monitoring the injury and would await the results of a scan and further assessment before the extent of the problem is known".

Manager Sir Alex Ferguson had been similarly non-committal when questioned on television after the match on Tuesday, saying only that it was too early to assess its severity.

"We'll just have to wait and see," he said. "Hopefully, it's not too serious. He might be doubtful for Saturday against Chelsea but we don't know for sure."

Video clips on Wednesday of Rooney hobbling away from a hospital in a protective boot seemed to rule him out from that game and most media outlets in Britain predicted, without sourcing, that he would be out from two to four weeks.

NO CONFIRMATION

United's website, which media inquiries all day were directed to for news, gave fans hungry for information no confirmation of this and offered instead a short article on a young Italian, Federico Macheda, who may replace him.

Even England coach Fabio Capello, when questioned by television reporters at a London airport, could shed no light on his best player's condition.

Rooney, with 34 goals this season, has been in the form of his life and is seen as absolutely key to any hopes England have of success in the June 11-July 11 World Cup finals in South Africa.

The 24-year-old will certainly be badly missed by Premier League leaders United who play second-placed Chelsea on Saturday at Old Trafford.

The Blues trail by one point and the match could conceivably be a title decider with six fixtures to play.

His absence for the second leg against Bayern next Wednesday at Old Trafford would be a major blow for Ferguson too.

England, who tasted their one and only World Cup triumph way back in 1966, are used to having their potential match-winners struck by injury on the eve of big tournaments.

In 2002, David Beckham, who almost single-handedly had taken England to the finals, played in Japan only semi-fit after a broken metatarsal foot injury and a similar fracture for Rooney four years ago in Germany similarly rocked their preparations.

Should Rooney indeed return after a month, it may be a blessing in disguise. There would only be a handful of fixtures for him to negotiate without further mishap but long enough to achieve reasonable fitness for the World Cup campaign.

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