Why resting Rooney will only hinder England hopes

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BBC pundit and 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 – he can get injured and still go to the World Cup! If he isn’t there he’ll be missed more off the pitch than on it.

The loss of Beckham won’t make a huge difference to England’s chances of winning the World Cup, but England can’t 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 he’s not a normal player – he has been special since a very early age.

You have to keep playing him, because when he’s 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 – that doesn’t mean not playing him, it means dropping him out of a few training sessions, because if you rest him from games you don’t get the same Wayne Rooney.

A fit Rooney will be a fearsome prospect for the teams in England’s group, because we couldn’t have asked for a better draw. England’s 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. They’ve got a lot of Premier League players and they have a good chance of going through with England.

Whatever the results in South Africa, you’re 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 you’re 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 – 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 – 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 didn’t improve was the quality of Englando’s penalty-taking!

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