Sir Alex Ferguson has blamed Wayne Rooney for the injury that could rule him out of Manchester United’s Premier League trip to Wolves.
Rooney was suffering discomfort from a long-standing knee niggle immediately after Sunday’s Carling Cup final and although Ferguson allowed the striker to link up with England ahead of their friendly with Egypt, he was not expecting the 24-year-old to be involved.
After a scan came back clear, not only was Rooney in Fabio Capello’s starting line-up, he played for 86 minutes before eventually being replaced by Carlton Cole.
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Given his widely-publicised reservations about the Wembley pitch, Ferguson is unhappy at how long Rooney was asked to play on it.
However, he has absolved Fabio Capello from any responsibility and insists Rooney should have taken care of the situation himself.
"I don’t think he should have played," said Ferguson. "It is his own enthusiasm that has caused it. His problem is that he can’t say no.
"He told us on Sunday he was feeling his knee. Then all of a sudden people put an arm around his shoulder with England and he wants to play.
"Fabio Capello has to pick his best team. A win was important so I don’t blame him at all
"I was more disappointed with Wayne. Why didn’t he come off? I cant believe it."
It is a measure of Ferguson’s respect for Capello that he has adopted such a neutral view of the Italian’s involvement.
He even watched Wednesday’s game and got a feeling England are on to something good.
"It was the best I have seen England play for years," he said.
"You saw them on Wednesday and you say to yourself that team has a chance in the World Cup."
Only with Rooney in there scrapping though. After scoring 28 goals this season, the former Everton man has already heeded some valuable lessons in the art of being a striker.
Now Ferguson wants him to absorb a few more about conserving energy. "It is hard to quell the enthusiasm of people like Wayne," he said.
"He is restless. He can’t sit down. He is always on the move.
"Even in hotels he is moving from one table to another. If we are away in Europe he is walking about all the time.
"You don’t want to take away from him but age does some good things for you.
"Eventually you see you can’t be doing this running about all the time. You have to take a rest sometimes."
If Rooney misses out at Wolves tomorrow, when victory would allow United to move two points clear at the top, it would represent a double blow as Michael Owen has been ruled out for the season with the hamstring injury he suffered during the Carling Cup final.
Although there was some good news on the injury front, with Ferguson revealing Rio Ferdinand will return to his starting line-up tomorrow and Owen Hargreaves is pencilled in for his long-awaited comeback in a reserve team encounter with Manchester City next Thursday, it was far outweighed by the loss of Owen, with the United boss making a telling admission.
"I have not played Michael enough," said Ferguson.
"That is a lot to do with Rooney’s form and our choice of playing one striker. He has been a little bit unfortunate with that.
"But we recognise he has made a great contribution.
"He is a good professional who has been terrific in the dressing room.
"It is the first time he has had a hamstring injury in four years as well, so it is a disappointment for the lad and a bad blow for us."
It robs United of one of their senior strikers at a crucial stage of the season. Danny Welbeck cannot be recalled from his loan period at Preston and Federico Macheda will return to training on Monday after a recent calf problem.
If Rooney misses out tomorrow, Senegal international Mame Biram Diouf might find himself thrust into the spotlight sooner than expected. It is a problem for Ferguson, who claims the stodgy Wembley pitch was part of the problem for Owen.
"He will have an operation on Monday morning," said Ferguson.
"It is a terrible blow for the lad and disappointing news for us too.
"He has never missed a training session all season.
"The heavy pitch at Wembley on Sunday made some contribution to it but really it is just bad luck."