Sunday 17 December 2017

Rooney looks like a player with weight of the world on his shoulders

Jason Burt in Port Elizabeth

WAYNE ROONEY was not limping as he left the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium last night -- but he was not talking either.

Rooney's silence appeared to be linked to the damaged ankle from which he is still suffering, and which led to his substitution. Worryingly, the injury is also having a psychological effect on him. His form is poor.

Last night the indications were that Rooney will be fit for Sunday's last 16 match, although the England team doctors will make another assessment today at the training camp near Rustenburg.

Rooney is likely to sit out training, but then he has been doing that after each of England's games because of the soreness he still feels. England manager Fabio Capello brushed aside the concerns over the striker, but he did so in the kind of perfunctory way that revealed his own worry.

Rooney was feeling his right ankle, which suffered ligament damage at the end of March, midway through the second half. This is what prompted his withdrawal.

Capello was quick to react, bringing on Joe Cole, but it was instructive that as Rooney realised he was going to be replaced, he stopped limping.

As he trudged off he made an arc around Capello, not seeking to shake the manager's hand -- and the Italian did not seek his either.

If his ankle is fine, then the problem is undoubtedly a mental one, something that Capello has spoken about, and which will, if this continues, raise questions as to whether Rooney is equipped temperamentally to fulfil hopes that he can become one of the world's greatest players.

Given the type of player he is, relying on power and speed and aggression, he needs to be fully fit to be operational. Frustration is also a factor. If Rooney is not fully fit, he does not play as well.

The fact that Capello has felt the need to speak to him on several occasions shows that the manager is concerned. Privately he has said Rooney looks like he has the weight of the world on his shoulders, and it is a heavy burden. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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