Fergie ignites fears of Rooney burn-out
Alex Ferguson has ordered Wayne Rooney to start protecting his precious talent after telling the striker that he has only himself to blame for aggravating his knee injury.
In a rare public criticism of the Manchester United forward, Ferguson said he was disappointed with Rooney for playing 86 minutes of England's 3-1 win over Egypt at Wembley on Wednesday, despite nursing a sore knee that could rule him out of the champions' Premier League match away to Wolverhampton Wanderers today.
The injury has raised fears that Rooney is running himself into the ground just when England -- in a World Cup year -- and United need him.
Ferguson named Rooney as a substitute for last Sunday's Carling Cup final against Aston Villa due to a slight knee injury and had expected the 24 year-old to miss England's clash with the African champions.
While the United manager insists he has no issue with England manager Fabio Capello over Rooney's selection against Egypt, Ferguson admits he has been left "disappointed" by the player's reluctance to minimise his involvement in the fixture.
Ferguson said: "There were some changes made during the England game and I thought Rooney would be one of them. He went into the game with a small injury, but there you are. It's disappointing.
"Fabio has to pick his best team because a win was important and I think England played the best I have seen them play for years.
"But I was disappointed more with Wayne. He didn't come off, I couldn't believe it, and now he's a doubt for the Wolves game.
"I don't blame Fabio at all, but don't forget he (Rooney) was not supposed to be playing. That's what Wayne told us on Sunday because he was feeling his knee. Then all of a sudden, people put an arm around his shoulder with England and he wants to play.
"I don't think he should have played. His own enthusiasm has caused it. He can't say 'no' and that's his problem."
Rooney has been involved in every game for club and country since missing United's Champions League trip to Wolfsburg on December 8, and with a heavy workload likely for the rest of the campaign, fears of the player suffering from burnout have already been expressed.
Ferguson believes that Rooney is paying the price for two games in four days on an exacting Wembley pitch which the manager claims contributed to the hamstring injury that has ended Michael Owen's season.
He said: "Playing at Wembley, on that kind of pitch for almost an hour on Sunday and then almost the full 90 minutes on the Wednesday, is far too much. You saw the pitch. I thought a horse show had been on it by the time I went on it! Do you remember when Arsenal played Swindon in the 1969 League Cup final? It wasn't as bad as that, but it reminded me of a ploughed field. I couldn't believe the players had actually played on it and come through it.
"We're going to have to assess Wayne because he played virtually the full game for England. It's hard to quell people with his kind of enthusiasm. He can't sit down, he can't sit still and he is always on the move.
"He's got a restless energy which you don't want to take away from him. But age does some good things for you and, eventually, you say to yourself, 'I can't be bothered with all this running about all the time', and you have to take a rest some time."
Meanwhile, United midfielder Owen Hargreaves is set to make his long-awaited comeback in a reserve team encounter against Manchester City on Thursday. (© Daily Telegraph)
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