England and Manchester United were waiting anxiously Wednesday for news of a scan on key striker Wayne Rooney’s ankle injury, just 10 weeks before the World Cup in South Africa kicks off.
In a sight that England fans were dreading, Rooney limped off in the closing minutes of United’s 2-1 Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich on Tuesday and left the Allianz Arena with his right ankle encased in a plastic boot.
Rooney was to have an MRI scan on the ankle on Wednesday and will be hoping that it does not reveal serious damage and leave the 24-year-old facing the same desperate race for fitness he endured before the 2006 World Cup.
United manager Alex Ferguson sought to downplay the injury, saying: “I don’t think it’s terribly serious, but we’ll wait and see.”
England’s most important striker underlined his goalscoring form in the second minute of the match in Munich when he volleyed home from close range to give United the lead.
But Rooney was left slumped on the grass after a collision with Bayern forward Mario Gomez moments before Ivica Olic scored Bayern’s winning goal in injury-time.
As Rooney tackled Gomez from behind, the German stood on Rooney’s left foot, causing the United striker to jump in pain. He then appeared to land awkwardly on his right foot, twisting his ankle in the process.
Rooney’s 34th goal of the season also underlined how much United would miss him as they approach a crucial few days.
The reigning champions face a crunch top-of-the-table clash with Chelsea on Saturday before taking on Bayern in the return leg of the Champions League quarter-final at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
The back page of The Sun tabloid summed up England fans’ sentiments on Wednesday with the headline “Pray”.
Rooney’s fight to recover from a broken metatarsal bone in the build-up to the 2006 World Cup became a national media obsession.
Although he did recover to play in the finals in Germany, he was clearly struggling for match fitness and England were eliminated in the quarter-finals.