With the World Cup fast approaching it is worth looking at some of the key players that will be gracing the fields of South Africa. One such player who potentially has a huge influence on the outcome of Group C, which sees the USA come up against England, Algeria and Slovenis is Wayen Rooney, the England striker, widely considered one of the best players in the World right now. However, in the build up to the tournament, Rooney has been suffering from injury which could have a huge impact on the odds on England winning the World Cup.
If England were to lose the services of its most gifted player, Wayne Rooney, then unlike the last time they were World Champions of 1966, they simply do not have the players with required class to replace him.
In 1966 the talking player of the England team was the great Jimmy Greaves, regarded at the time as the one of the two or three best strikers in Europe. However manager of the day, Sir Alf Ramsey, decided to leave the superstar out of the team, after the Group stages, but the difference between now and then is that in 66, there were a number of international standard strikers who could ‘step up to the plate’ and replace him. In the 2010 squad there is no such player.
The striking department is already a dilemma for coach, Fabio Capello, he clearly has not found exactly what he has been looking for in his two years at the helm, but knows that in Rooney he has potentially the best striker in South Africa. Various players have been tried alongside him, Defoe, Heskey and Crouch being the most recent; he has even experimented during matches with Steven Gerrard. He still has those players at his disposal but has added the talents of Darren Bent to the preliminary squad, but it is doubtful if he has solved the dilemma.
The biggest worry for him, the team the staff and the fans however is what would happen if Rooney should get injured or banned? Unlike the squad of 66, Sir Alf Ramsey had the huge talents of Geoff Hurst and Roger Hunt at hand, both strikers who could play at any level in the world. Indeed Hurst of course went on to score that famous World Cup Final hat-trick to win the tournament against Germany.
Without Rooney, Capello will almost certainly plump for the Spurs strike partnership of Crouch and Defoe, but he will know that even together they do not represent the threat and presence of a Wayne Rooney in top form. Both are proven goalscorers but should England get into the latter stages, they will find extremely difficult to get the better of some of the very best defenders in the World and neither possess the perception of Rooney either on or off the ball.
Of course it could be that Rooney survives all the knocks and the threat of the yellow and red cards meaning that all Capello has to decide is who plays up top with him. Or will he decide on a five man midfield with Rooney playing the lone striker, a system which many experts and plaudits favour.
Whatever the decision and whatever the progress of the England team, it is clear that Rooney is the team talisman and with him ‘firing on all cylinders’ England can even win the Trophy.