By now, we surely all know the story: Wayne Rooney missed Manchester United’s Community Shield win over Wigan Athletic with what his club said was a shoulder injury. During the post match press conference, David Moyes was asked questions about Rooney’s absence. The new United manager insisted there had been no falling out, and that the player was training with the reserves due to injury. When pressed about the injury and Rooney’s ability to be called up for the match against Scotland, Moyes remarked that it was entirely possible for a player to be unable to play on the Sunday and yet report to international duty for a Wednesday match.
And so the striker showed up bright and early for the England training session, even arriving 30 minutes before practice was scheduled to begin. After the training session, reporters, all hungry for Rooney news, naturally questioned England manager Roy Hodgson about the injury. Hodgson responded, “It’s difficult to assess with the naked eye how match-fit people are but there’s no doubt in my mind that he’s not suffering from a physical injury.”
As Moyes rightly pointed out, it is entirely possible that Rooney was not at match fitness for the game against Wigan on Sunday, but had recovered enough to train with the England squad on Monday. But Hodgson’s choice of words — “he’s not suffering from a physical injury” — will be what grabs the headlines, including this one. Whether Rooney was really injured for the Community Shield is no longer important, despite the fact that it will undoubtedly be discussed for days.
What is essential for Rooney, and for the England side as they gear up for more World Cup qualifiers, is that the striker learn where his home might be. The Three Lions currently sit two points back of Montenegro in UEFA qualification, although they have a game in hand on the leaders. Despite Hodgson’s statements that Rooney is likely to be selected for the national side even if not playing regularly, the team will be stronger if he is consistently playing for a club side. With England in such a tight qualifying group, the situation, whether it be about injuries, feuds or transfer negotiations, must be resolved as soon as possible.