HE may have injury concerns just weeks before the World Cup, but Wayne Rooney believes England will reap the benefits of his lay-off in South Africa.
The PFA Player of the Year missed Manchester United’s win over Tottenham on Saturday with a groin problem, having only just recovered from an ankle injury.
It hardly seems the best build-up to a tournament in which the striker will be expected to lead the nation to their best performance for decades.
But Rooney insists the enforced absence at the end of a season that has already seen him play 48 times will prove to be blessing in disguise.
“I’m pleased to have done well in a World Cup year but it’s been a difficult last couple of months injury-wise. I’m disappointed to have missed a couple of games over the last few weeks,” he said.
“No one likes watching football if you’re a player, it’s difficult knowing you can’t influence the game. It’s frustrating. But if there’s any consolation I’ll probably be fresher for the World Cup, which will be good for me.”
Fabio Capello’s men are among the favourites to lift the trophy in Johannesburg on 11 July, and Rooney’s ability to rediscover top form this summer is expected to be a decisive factor.
Injuries restricted the 24-year-old’s effectiveness both at Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup, contributing to disappointing quarter-final exits, but he is confident England will be able to meet expectations even if he suffers another setback.
“We have a lot of world-class players in the team and a great manager,” Rooney added. “If I get injured then so be it, there are other players there to do the job. Success would be to win the trophy. We’ve definitely got a good enough squad to do that.”