England coach Fabio Capello has said he is not worried by the injury to star striker Wayne Rooney, who hurt his ankle during the Champions League match against Bayern Munich.
The 24-year-old Rooney returned ahead of schedule for the second quarterfinal leg against Bayern, but limped off after aggravating the injury. "I fully understand (Sir Alex) Ferguson and I know how important Rooney is psychologically for the team," Capello told Thursday’s Gazzetta dello Sport. "I don’t think it was a risk. After the tests he took the field and evidently it wasn’t serious."
Rooney is expected to be fit for the last weeks of the season and for England’s pre-World Cup friendlies against Mexico and Japan, but recent England World Cup campaigns have been disrupted by last minute injuries to key players.
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In 2002 David Beckham broke a bone in his foot, while Rooney suffered a similar injury before the 2006 World Cup. Now Capello’s main concern is whether Ashley Cole will return from a fractured ankle.
"At this crucial stage of the season anything could happen, whether I cross my fingers or not," Capello said. "All I want is for the injured players to get fit in time."
The Italian is confident that England will be among the leading contenders in South Africa, but has promised that the team will not be distracted by off field matters as it was in Germany four years ago.
"I would say we can compete with any of the other finalists and have the ability to go far in the tournament," he said. "Under me all our hotels have been dry and that includes the non-playing staff as well. We shall see what we come up with to break the boredom, but I don’t expect I’ll be sending them to the nearby casinos."
Capello’s contract with the Football Association finishes after the 2012 European Championships. He has already said he has no plans to carry on beyond the tournament in Poland and Ukraine, but has said he may be open to other coaching jobs.
"I will go back to doing the television work that I was doing before England called me," he said. "I am always interested in new and interesting situations and difficult challenges. After being a coach there’s a lot of different work. I’m not closing any doors."