No quick return for Rooney

Rooney remained in hospital overnight as medical staff assessed

the extent of the injury he sustained when Hugo Rodallega landed on

him in stoppage time.

Immediately after the game, Sir Alex Ferguson said it was “a

very bad one” which would rule his forward out for four weeks.

This has been emphasised by the reaction of surgeons who were

“surprised” at the depth of the cut.

Rooney returned home on Sunday morning after a comfortable

night.

However, his chances of figuring in next Sunday’s Premier League

encounter with Southampton appear non-existent and it seems

inevitable he will also miss England’s opening World Cup qualifiers

against Moldova and Ukraine next month.

Roy Hodgson is due to name his squad on Thursday, at which point

it will be surely too early for any risk to be taken with Rooney’s

recovery.

The one reason for optimism is that when Nani needed stitches in

a nasty wound, admittedly below the knee, inflicted by Jamie

Carragher at Liverpool in March 2011, Ferguson immediately put the

recovery timescale at three weeks, yet the Portugal winger was back

in action nine days later.

With the start of another Champions League campaign and a trip

to Liverpool looming straight after the international break, any

reduction in that four-week timescale would be a bonus for

Ferguson.

Rodallega has been cleared of any blame for the incident, which

happened as Rooney attempted to close down a free-kick that had

just rebounded back to the Colombian.

The sheer force of Rodallega landing on Rooney caused the damage

and it appeared the Fulham man was wearing studs, rather than the

blades some have argued cause greater injury.

Rooney’s condition helped deflect attention away from the fact

he did not feature in the United starting line-up yesterday,

although Ferguson was at pains to stress there are “no problems”

with the forward.

Instead of being paired with new signing Robin van Persie,

Rooney was left on the bench as Ferguson kept faith with Shinji

Kagawa following that dire defeat at Everton on Monday.

Rooney was amongst those to perform well below expectations at

Goodison Park and many fans yesterday immediately hailed Ferguson’s

decision as the right one.

However, it must have been a blow to the striker’s pride if

nothing else.

And with the transfer window due to close on Friday, there is

bound to be some talk of Rooney’s future, if only outside the

club.

Certainly Ferguson was quick to quell such talk even as Rooney

was heading to hospital.

“He and Robin van Persie are needing games,” said the Scot.

“To start the two of them would have been too much. Wayne

understood that.

“There is no problem. He played his part when he came on.”

Rooney did have just three pre-season outings, although

including the Everton game, did have five hours’ action under his

belt prior to kick-off, significantly more than Van Persie, who

admits he is still a couple of weeks away from full fitness.

However, whilst Kagawa was excellent yesterday, what must also

be factored into Ferguson’s use of the summer arrival from Borussia

Dortmund is that his international break involves a draining return

home and World Cup qualifiers against United Arab Emirates and

Iraq.

Ferguson noted with Park Ji-Sung that his performance levels

tended to dip in such circumstances, so the threat to Rooney’s

status as United’s number one man need not be long lasting.

And Van Persie, whilst keen to spread the praise across his

team-mates, expects Rooney to be his main strike partner this

season.

“Wayne is a world-class player,” said the Dutchman.

“He can give you everything; assists, goals. He is quick,

technical. He loves to link up as well.

“I am looking forward to that combination of course.

“I am a football fan. I like to enjoy my work. With Wayne and

all the others I think I can do that.”