Manchester United's Wayne Rooney has brushed off suggestions his recent dip in form is down to post-World Cup trauma, and believes a red card he received in Amsterdam is more to blame.
Rooney's relative lack of spark, and goals, this term has led many observers to comment that he may have been rushed back too quickly from injury to play in the World Cup.
The former Everton starlet will celebrate his 21st birthday tomorrow having having found his feet again.
And after Sir Alex Ferguson called on Rooney's critics to get off the striker's back, Rooney told Manchester United Radio it was a lack of games -- due to the red card and subsequent three-match ban he picked up against Porto in a friendly -- which robbed him of match practice at a vital stage of United's pre-season programme.
"I am happy with my form and enjoying my football as always but if there was a reason for my fitness dropping, it was that three-game ban," said Rooney.
"You can do all the training you want but if you are not playing games it will have an effect. You have to play games to get match fit.
"In effect, I received a four-game ban because I also missed the second match in Amsterdam. I was devastated about it because I felt it was undeserved.
"I didn't agree with it but in the end I had to get on with it."
The one remaining talking point as Rooney celebrates his 'coming of age' is his lack of goals.