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Home >> Sports
UPDATED: 12:13, June 08, 2006
England play down Rooney hopes
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MUNICH: England on Tuesday tried to temper optimism that Wayne Rooney had made a rapid recovery from injury in time for the World Cup, while reigning champions Brazil said striker Ronaldo was sure to line up in their first match.

When the tournament kicks off tomorrow, Pele and Diego Maradona will be the stars of the opening ceremony in Munich immediately before host nation Germany take on Costa Rica, FIFA President Sepp Blatter said.

The eyes of England were on the broken foot bone of Rooney, the 20-year-old Manchester United striker and potentially his team's most influential player, after signs he may be able to play some part in his country's opening matches just weeks after being on crutches.

Pictures of Rooney launching into the air for a scissor-kick with his injured right foot dominated front pages in Britain, but England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson pleaded for calm until the results of yesterday's all-important scan are in.

A decision on whether Rooney will stay in the England camp, or be replaced before FIFA's deadline tomorrow, will be taken after that scan.

The team would be waiting until as late as this morning before making a decision, said Eriksson after his players had their first training session at their picturesque base in Baden-Baden.

"I think he looks very good. I don't really have any other news about him. Let's wait as, very soon, we will know what is going to happen about him."

Meanwhile, Germany captain Michael Ballack said he was hoping to avoid England in the last 16 - the European giants must both win their first-round groups to avoid meeting at that stage.

"We could meet England and that would be a really hard test. It is the best English team for years," said Ballack, who has just joined star-studded English Premiership champions Chelsea.

Ballack missed Germany training with a sore calf but he insists he will play tomorrow.

Ronaldo, who needs two goals in this World Cup to equal the 14-goal tournament record held by Gerd Muller of West Germany, will be fit to face Croatia in Brazil's Group F opener on Tuesday despite a mysterious foot problem, team doctors said.

He has complained of pains and blisters on his feet and attributed them to new boots, so the Brazilian medical staff asked his club Real Madrid to send several pairs of his normal boots.

"The healing process and the blisters is virtually complete," said Brazil team doctor Jose Luis Runco. "Ronaldo won't have any more problems."

Italy received a welcome boost when defenders Gianluca Zambrotta and Alessandro Nesta said they were both recovering well from injuries.

Italy's medics have ruled Zambrotta out of the team's opening Group E match against Ghana on Monday, but the versatile Juventus full-back said he felt he could be fit for the clash against the United States five days later.

Another team with injury problems are the Netherlands, who put midfielders Nigel de Jong and Stijn Schaars on standby in case a quartet including Wesley Sneijder and Phillip Cocu fail to recover in time.

The most extraordinary no-show of the World Cup so far came when Serbia and Montenegro defender Dusan Petkovic, the son of national coach Ilija, opted not to take part because of the accusations of nepotism caused by his inclusion in place of the injured Mirko Vucinic.

"He stayed at home because of the huge pressure created by his last-minute selection," said team spokesman Aleksandar Boskovic.

FIFA said tomorrow's opening ceremony would be a celebration of past winners of football's biggest prize, including all 22 players from the 1974 final in Munich in which West Germany beat the Netherlands 2-1.

Pele will carry the trophy into the futuristic Munich stadium with German supermodel Claudia Schiffer.

Source: China Daily


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