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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 June 2006, 10:25 GMT 11:25 UK
Rooney is injury free - Eriksson
England star Wayne Rooney in training on Thursday
The last say in this story is Rooney's and mine

England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson
England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson said striker Wayne Rooney is "injury free" and will be able to play at the World Cup as soon as he is match fit.

The 20-year-old returned to England's camp late on Wednesday after a scan on his broken foot in Manchester.

"I'm doing this in the best interests of Rooney, the England team and 40 million England fans," said Eriksson.

"I'm prepared to listen to everyone and discuss Rooney, but the last say in this story is Rooney's and mine."

However, Sir Bobby Charlton, a World Cup winner and Manchester United director, was far more cautious in his appraisal of Rooney.

"If there's any chance at all it could be detrimental for Wayne if they play him too early, that's not right for him," Charlton told BBC Radio Five Live.

"And that's not being selfish in terms of Manchester United, that's just being realistic about the lad himself.

"There's indecision among some of the medical people that suggests there's disharmony.

Wayne desperately wants to play, but I don't think that's a decision he should make

Sir Bobby Charlton

"I don't think Wayne is the person to ask. He desperately wants to play, but I don't think that's a decision he should make."

Eriksson delivered his message at a news conference on Thursday and left immediately afterwards, refusing to take questions from reporters.

Our man in Baden-Baden, chief football writer Phil McNulty said the Swede was in an unusually assertive mood.

"Eriksson has rarely sounded so bullish over an England issue, reading from a prepared statement and refusing to take questions.

"He even tugged at the heartstrings of the nation by saying he will do what is best for Rooney, England and 40 million England fans - seemingly asking them what they would do if they were him.

WORLD CUP BLOG
Our man in Baden-Baden on Rooney's return

"But it was significant that he did not speak about what was best for Manchester United and perhaps even more pointedly, their manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

"The unspoken message coming out of Eriksson's statement was that England and United are not necessarily of the same mind regarding Rooney's stage of recovery."

Rooney has been out of action since breaking a metatarsal in his right foot against Chelsea on 29 April.

There were fears the injury would rule the Manchester United striker out of the entire tournament.

His club issued a statement after Wednesday's scan saying the 20-year-old would be fit - but only after the group stage of the tournament.

606 VIEW
RM

United added that at that point a "very careful assessment" would be needed to decide if Rooney could participate.

The striker attended England training on Thursday ahead of the opening World Cup game against Paraguay on Saturday.

And Eriksson insisted the star, who had been tipped to be England's star player before the tournament, was only now working on his fitness.

"The good news from Wednesday evening and today is that Rooney has no more injury. He's injury free," he said.

"Now, it's up to us to get him match fit and, when we think he's match fit, I'm prepared to take in any specialist we want to take in, or Manchester United want us to take in."

Upon Rooney's return to the England camp, the BBC's chief football correspondent Mike Ingham - in the reception of the team's hotel in Baden-Baden when the striker returned - heard him declare 'The Big Man is back in town'.

England captain David Beckham said the players were pleased to see Rooney back in the fold but insisted they were focused on Saturday's opening match against Paraguay.

"It's nice to have him back but to be honest we haven't really been thinking about it too much as the players have been concentrating and focused on training and it hasn't been a distraction," he said.

"Wayne's been doing the same tests and his fitness level is up there with the rest of us but whether he plays is up to the management."



SEE ALSO
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Have your say on the World Cup
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BBC World Cup coverage
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