Why resting Rooney will only hinder England hopes
BBC pundit and freesat.co.uk/worldcup blogger Lee Dixon gives his verdict on England's chances of finally tasting World Cup glory again this summer.
David Beckham had planned on making history in South Africa, but a torn Achilles tendon shattered his World Cup dream. Beckham would have gone as a squad member, but it looks like he may still travel as an ambassador. Such is the fortune of Beckham Ã¢ÂÂ he can get injured and still go to the World Cup! If he isnÃ¢ÂÂt there heÃ¢ÂÂll be missed more off the pitch than on it.
The loss of Beckham wonÃ¢ÂÂt make a huge difference to EnglandÃ¢ÂÂs chances of winning the World Cup, but England canÃ¢ÂÂt afford to lose the recently injured Wayne Rooney.
There is no one else within a mile of Rooney who can score the goals we need to win the World Cup. With other players you might be concerned that they are peaking too soon, but heÃ¢ÂÂs not a normal player Ã¢ÂÂ he has been special since a very early age.
You have to keep playing him, because when heÃ¢ÂÂs not playing he loses that burning desire in his eyes. If he does start to feel tired, the coaching staff will give him the rest he needs Ã¢ÂÂ that doesnÃ¢ÂÂt mean not playing him, it means dropping him out of a few training sessions, because if you rest him from games you donÃ¢ÂÂt get the same Wayne Rooney.
A fit Rooney will be a fearsome prospect for the teams in EnglandÃ¢ÂÂs group, because we couldnÃ¢ÂÂt have asked for a better draw. EnglandÃ¢ÂÂs first opponents, the USA, will also be happy to be in Group C alongside Slovenia and Algeria, who I expect will finish in third and fourth place.
I was impressed with the US in the Confederations Cup last summer, where they were surprise finalists against Brazil. TheyÃ¢ÂÂve got a lot of Premier League players and they have a good chance of going through with England.
Whatever the results in South Africa, youÃ¢ÂÂre in for a treat with this being the first World Cup shown in HD. Until you compare HD to standard definition you may not realise the difference it makes when youÃ¢ÂÂre watching football.
At the last World Cup we set up an experiment with two TVs in the BBC production office, where we watched games for our highlights programme Ã¢ÂÂ one was normal telly and the other was HD.
We had to turn the other one off in the end, because no one was watching it Ã¢ÂÂ we could see so much more on the HD TV, which is important for me when my job as a pundit is to pick out bits of action. Sadly, the only thing the HD didnÃ¢ÂÂt improve was the quality of EnglandoÃ¢ÂÂs penalty-taking!
You will find an in-depth match planner on the freesat site (www.freesat.co.uk/worldcup), featuring all the info you need to know about all the games. Plus, thereÃ¢ÂÂs a host of brilliant World Cup facts to keep you and your mates entertained Ã¢ÂÂ even John Motson would be impressed.