Ferguson hits out at Eriksson's 'wild dream' | india | Hindustan Times
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Ferguson hits out at Eriksson's 'wild dream'

Man U boss's sceptical blast poured icy water all over Eriksson's optimistic plan to take an injured Rooney to Germany.

india Updated: May 06, 2006 18:33 IST

England's World Cup plans were in total disarray on Tuesday after Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson made it clear he would oppose plans to take an injured Wayne Rooney to Germany.

Ferguson described England coach Sven Goran Eriksson's hopes that Rooney would have recovered from a broken metatarsal bone in his right foot in time to feature in the latter stages of the tournament as "a wild dream."

The Scot's sceptical blast poured icy water all over Eriksson's optimistic plan to name Rooney in the squad he will announce on May 15, even if he is certain not be fit for England's World Cup opener against Paraguay on June 10.

"We have to make sure we don't build up people's expectations which is what's happening at the moment," Ferguson said, voicing scepticism about the chances of Rooney, who suffered the injury on Saturday, being anywhere near ready to play again by the time the World Cup kicks off.

"Sven is going on saying he will take the lad in six weeks and then he will have two weeks to play in the quarter-finals of the World Cup. That is a wild dream.

"It's important Wayne gets a good recovery time. It's folly to say Wayne could be out there in six weeks and then play in the World Cup quarter-finals. If Wayne's not ready he's not going to go."

Ferguson had earlier insisted that he would do everything he could to help England's medical staff get Rooney ready in time to play some role in the tournament.

The United boss also acknowledged that Rooney would be personally distraught at missing out after suffering an almost identical injury to the one that ended his involvement in Euro 2004, the tournament at which he announced himself to the world as a precociously talented 18-year-old.

"This time round it's even worse because he's more mature and is a more rounded player who has improved dramatically over the last two years," Ferguson said. "So it's a real, real blow."

The only consolation for Ferguson was that the striker would be relieved of the burden of carrying all England's hopes in Germany.

"I said a few weeks ago I didn't want to see this kind of pressure on a lad of 20 years of age," he said. "Other more experienced players such as David Beckham, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, John Terry, Rio Ferdinand and Gary Neville, should be taking the mantle.

"If England don't have Wayne Rooney they will need to look at getting inspiration from other players."

The bad news on Rooney came at the end of a day that had otherwise been encouraging for Eriksson, with Ashley Cole returning to action for Arsenal and Michael Owen voicing confidence that his own metatarsal problems would not keep him out of the tournament.

Owen, 26, played for half an hour for Newcastle against Birmingham on Saturday and caused alarm after the match when he admitted that his first appearance since December 31 had left him in considerable pain.

But after receiving assurances from his surgeon and speaking to victims of similar injuries, the former Real Madrid and Liverpool striker now expects to feature in Newcastle's final match of the season, against champions Chelsea at St James' on Sunday.

He said: "I have heard from other players who have had the same injury and they have told me it is totally normal to feel this pain when you first come back. There is no reason to think I should have any problems being right for the World Cup."

Cole meanwhile looked sharp after coming on as a second-half substitute Arsenal's 3-0 win over Sunderland and is set to start Thursday's Premiership match at Manchester City.

"Ashley did well and physically he looks sharp," said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. "He's getting better and better and he's ready for 90 minutes. He's had two games in the reserves so it shouldn't be a problem."

Cole, 25, last appeared for Arsenal on January 14. He had been sidelined since then with ankle and thigh problems having missed the previous three months with, inevitably, a broken bone in his foot.

England have been badly affected by metatarsal injuries in recent years.

David Beckham suffered one in the run-up to the 2002 World Cup and was not fully fit for the tournament as a result while Gary Neville missed Euro 2004 because of a virtually identical injury.

And while Cole and Owen are on the recovery track, Ledley King, the Tottenham defender, is struggling to be fit in time for Germany because of a stress fracture in his right foot.