When England begin their qualifying campaign for FIFA World Cup 2014 in Chisinau at the beginning of next month they will be doing so without the services of Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney, who has been ruled out for at least four weeks because of an injury sustained during United’s Premier League win over Fulham. Rooney came on as a substitute after Robin Van Persie started in his place and was a part of one or two meaty clashes before a coming together with Hugo Rodallega that left the former Everton teenager with what has been universally dubbed “a nasty gash”. Get the guffaws out of your system now.
Alex Ferguson relayed an immediate prognosis of a four-week recovery period for Rooney whose injury looked as painful as it did revolting. On BBC Radio 5 Live Mark Lawrenson said it would likely take Rooney a couple of weeks just to put his full weight on his leg, so one suspects that six weeks might be nearer the mark. Either way, Rooney will not be available for Roy Hodgson when he begins his first England qualifying campaign on September 7th against Moldova. Four days later England return to Wembley and return the courtesy of hosting Ukraine.
Hodgson’s options for Rooney’s replacement are alarmingly limited. The squad for England’s friendly win over Italy contained only Jermain Defoe and Andy Carroll once the injury withdrawals had been completed, and my recent assessment of the squad depth suggested that Defoe, Carroll, Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott would be the forwards selected for the matches against Moldova and Ukraine.
Unfortunately, there’s not a lot waiting in the wings. Daniel Sturridge has recovered from the toe injury that ruled him out against Italy but has played just 21 minutes of Chelsea’s blistering 100% start to the Premier League season. The possible renaissance in the form and confidence of Spanish striker Fernando Torres will do him no favours, but Rooney’s absence for England might just open up an opportunity that might otherwise have eluded Sturridge, who turns 23 next Saturday.
Aston Villa striker Darren Bent has barely had a kick in his team’s two defeats so far this season and there aren’t a great many other potential selections. Queens Park Rangers striker Bobby Zamora was on his toes (and, along with several others, illegally in the penalty area) to sweep in the rebound from Djibril Cisse’s saved penalty against Norwich City. Sturridge, Zamora and Bent have all had their England debuts and one has to wonder whether Hodgson might extend a crooked finger to invite a new member into his England squad in Rooney’s stead.
With two games won, eight goals scored and none conceded, Swansea City have really launched themselves out of the blocks in their first season under the guidance of Michael Laudrup. 180 minutes of graft have only rewarded Danny Graham with one of the Swans’ eight goals but it was a continuation of last season’s typical Graham finishes, and if he carries on in 2012/13 where he left off last term Hodgson is going to find him increasingly difficult to ignore.
(Photo credit: Andrea Sartorati via Flickr)