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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 May 2006, 12:21 GMT 13:21 UK
Life without Rooney
By Mark Orlovac

Wayne Rooney lies in agony after suffering a broken metatarsal
England are looking at a back-up plan to cover Rooney's absence
So England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson has been forced into planning for his nightmare scenario - trying to win the World Cup without Wayne Rooney.

There has been plenty of discussion around the whys and wherefores of Rooney's metatarsal break, but the reality is that the Manchester United striker could play little or no part in England's campaign.

So what now? How will England line-up in Germany and how will the players at Eriksson's disposal feature in a revised formation?

BBC Sport looks at the options open to Eriksson as he prepares to take on the world's best without his talisman.


The simplest option for Eriksson, and one that will require the least amount of tinkering.

This formation will see Liverpool's Peter Crouch or maybe even Jermain Defoe coming in to play directly alongside Michael Owen.

Crouch's height and ability to hold the ball up could provide the perfect foil for Owen but the formation could negate the attacking instincts of central midfielders Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard.

Your view:
"I would play 4-4-2 with Owen and Crouch, who I think would complement Owen very well. I believe it is imperative that England play a holding midfielder which will allow Gerrard and Lampard to be offensive, even if that means leaving out Beckham or Cole."
James Grant, UK

"If it's just Rooney injured, I think we should play the same back four and same midfield, keep it simple and try Owen and Defoe."
Darshan, UK

"England should replace Rooney with Crouch. Putting in quality balls will trouble other teams, it worked in the last friendly and I don't think we have any other choices as Sven hasn't really given other players a good chance in other games."
Roy Tidman, England

"Dean Ashton deserves a call-up to the squad. Owen is best playing with a supporting striker that can feed him balls. Crouch can possibly do this, but you have to question Crouch's overall play against Ashton's. Dean Ashton is stronger, scores more goals and is probably better in the air as well."
David Jones, Wales

"Stick with the 4-4-2 but move Gerrard to just behind Owen if fit, move Beckham into the middle with Lampard and put Shaun-Wright Phillips out on the right wing! Please no Crouch in the starting line up!"
Chris, UK

"Simple - Crouch and Owen up front. Think about it, with Lampard and Gerrard bursting through the midfield we are still one of the best teams in the world."
Steve Dezzler, UK


Eriksson could swamp the midfield leaving Owen, Crouch or Defoe to plough their own furrow up front.

Chelsea midfielder Joe Cole
Cole has scored 11 goals in an impressive season for Chelsea

This line-up could see Lampard, Carrick and Gerrard in the middle with wingers Cole and Beckham supplying the lone forward.

Your view:
"Without doubt he has to play Carrick. This may also enable Lampard and Gerrard to play the way they do for their respective clubs. We don't really have another world-class forward let alone somebody who can fill Rooney's boots."
Adam, England

"I think it would be right to gamble on someone who could have a similar impact as Rooney. I'd play one striker, then Beckham, Gerrard and Lampard in the middle with Cole and Aaron Lennon on the wings. Lennon has been incredible all season and opposition will know nothing of him."
Anthony, UK

"He should be brave for once. Get Beckham, Carrick and Gerrard in the centre, Lennon and Cole on the wings and Owen up front. If one or two of the centre midfielders held back, it would allow the other to get forward, plus Lennon and Cole could come in from the wings."
Andy, England

"This is actually the formation that suits English players best because Lampard and Gerrard can't play together in a two-man central midfield."
Chris Davie, Scotland


Arsenal fans will tell anyone that will listen how effective this formation has been in guiding the club to their first Champions League final.

Either Carrick or Ledley King would sit in front of the defence with Beckham and Cole playing wide.

This would allow Gerrard and Lampard to play up behind Owen, making full use of the attacking talents that have made both of them such crucial players for their respective clubs.

Your view:
"With an abundance of top class midfielders, we should consider changing to a system similar to that which Chelsea play. This would allow Carrick to hold in midfield meaning Gerrard and Lampard can get forward with Cole and Beckham giving width with Crouch or Owen up front. Sorted."
Matt, UK

"How about 4-1-4-1 with Carrick in front of the back four? He's on fantastic form lately and would be a cultured contribution to an already strong midfield."
Dan Thomas, England

"In Gerrard and Lampard we have two midfielders who are itching to play together behind the front man. Despite Owen not being physically ideal to play the lone striker role, his pace and great finishing should create space for Lampard and Gerrard to arrive late in the box."
Jonathan Kyd, England

"We should be able to dominate the midfield against any other team - but my only reluctance is that we'll lack the penetration to really threaten in attack."
Jon G, UK


There are several variations along this theme. Owen takes the lone striker role with either Cole or Gerrard playing in behind.

Middlesbrough's Stewart Downing
Downing is regarded as one of England's brightest prospects

Carrick or King would be the holding player alongside Lampard with one of Cole, Gerrard or even Middlesbrough's Stewart Downing on the left flank.

Alan Hansen's view:
"Personally, I think the answer is to play Joe Cole just off Owen and move Gerrard to the left, giving him a remit to roam. Beckham can stay on the right, with Lampard in the middle alongside a holding player, maybe Carrick or Ledley King, if he's fit."

Your view:
"Putting Gerrard in the hole behind Owen with Carrick holding in midfield with give England a very dynamic strike force. Lampard is capable of goals as is Gerrard and we all know what Owen can do. Cole has also proved that he can score goals at international level."
Shane, England

"I would play a five-man midfield with Carrick as a holding midfielder and Lampard as the other central midfielder. I would then play Gerrard behind Owen. I don't think that Crouch, Defoe or Darren Bent are good enough to partner Owen as a first-choice striker."
A Barry, England

"Lampard and Gerrard never play as well together as they do for their clubs in central midfield, they just cancel each other out. Push Gerrard up behind Owen and bring in a holding midfielder. I would much rather have Cole or Gerrard behind Owen than Crouch/Defoe or whoever else we take."
Chi Patel, UK

"Put Downing on the left and play Cole behind Owen. Cole has the ability to link up play, score goals and seemed like the natural successor to Scholes. The only issue is that if England need to go long there is a significant Height disadvantage, in which case you could play Crouch but I think that Ashton is better."
Darren Lowman, UK

"We could play Carrick and Lampard in the midfield and push Gerrard behind Owen as he has done for Liverpool, or Crouch who has now scored for England, has Champions League experience and played in the World Club Championships."
Rob Cookson, England

"Cole is a talented creative player so put him in the Rooney position. We have many strong midfielders so I would be inclined not to play a holding player, it's not a natural formation for England. Remember France won the World Cup without a proven striker, so can we."
Ed, UK

"A bit of a wild-card option but if Shaun Wright-Phillips isn't going to dislodge Beckham on the right then play him up front or between the midfield and a lone striker and let him scare with his pace - remember what he did to Argentina."
Faz, England

Should England still gamble by taking an unfit Wayne Rooney to the World Cup?
87578 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

Vote now closed

England plot Rooney back-up plan
03 May 06 |  England
Pitches blamed for Rooney injury
02 May 06 |  Internationals
June deadline for injured Rooney
02 May 06 |  England
Eriksson set to gamble on Rooney
30 Apr 06 |  England
Injured Rooney a World Cup doubt
30 Apr 06 |  World Cup 2006
Pick your England team
03 Dec 05 |  Squad selectors
England team guide
27 Apr 06 |  England

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