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Thursday 21 September 2017

John Giles: Capello well aware of Rooney reliance

FABIO Capello doesn't look like a man who has sleepless nights but if there is one subject capable of keeping him awake into the small hours it's Wayne Rooney.

While Capello's immediate concern will be for the health and well-being of the Chelsea contingent playing in tomorrow's FA Cup final mismatch against Portsmouth, Rooney will never be far from his thoughts.

The question for Capello and England is which Rooney turns up in South Africa. To do well in the World Cup, they need the Rooney who had everyone raving about his great talent early in the year and not the one who limped off the pitch in Munich and hasn't been right since.

Rooney carried Manchester United's Champions League and Premier League hopes on his shoulders for eight months and his form for much of that time was inspiring.

It was the full flowering of a great talent and it was easy to believe that Rooney was the player most likely to blaze a trail across the World Cup finals.

The timing seemed perfect. Released from the burden of playing in Cristiano Ronaldo's considerable shadow, the World Cup looked ripe for a Rooney command performance.

But club imperatives dictated that Rooney had to put his fitness on the line without any regard to future international commitments and, I have to say, I don't think he was fit enough to play after he went over on an existing ankle injury in Munich.

Everything he did after that just made a bad situation worse. His latest problem is a groin strain and as any player knows, one knock will always lead to another if you don't allow enough time for recovery.

That said, I completely understand why Alex Ferguson was willing to gamble on Rooney's fitness and why the lad himself was desperate to play.

It was obvious to everyone that without Rooney, Ferguson had very little ammunition to use against the Germans and he had to play his best man, come what may.

The gamble misfired and now Capello is left waiting and wondering about the fitness of his best player.

I do believe that Rooney will be alright for England and that he will be fully fit by the time the opening game rolls around against the USA in Rustenburg on July 12.

HUNGER

Rooney is the type of lad who loves to play and perhaps needs to play every week. He has a hunger for work but the key between now and the first game will be rest and recuperation.

After playing such a huge role in Manchester United's season, he needs to allow his body time to recharge and, for that reason, it's probably no harm that Rooney will be forced to take things easy.

I notice that Landon Donovan has suggested that Rooney will be worn out by the time he gets to South Africa and it's a fair point to make. But it will be the same for everyone. Professional footballers play a lot of games these days, whether it's in the Premier League, La Liga or the Conference.

As always, chance plays a big part in the selection of international squads and if Capello is unlucky, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole might end up in traction after the FA Cup final.

If he's lucky, all three will make it through Chelsea's double attempt unscathed and Capello will be able to take full advantage of the fact that Cole has had an extended break because of injury and looks like a player who can't wait for the World Cup.

I've no doubt he'll be travelling with an FA Cup winners medal to sit alongside his Premier League prize. Portsmouth have done well to get to Wembley but the romance of the Cup will be in short supply in this final.

Chelsea are in the humour to showboat and have far too much power to allow Avram Grant a moment to relax.

The fact that a club in such dire straits made it to the FA Cup final probably says a lot more about the competition's standing than it does about the Portsmouth team or Grant's ability to manage.

He redeemed himself in many people's eyes when he soldiered on at Pompey in the most difficult circumstances and without any reward.

Now, it looks like he might be on West Ham's wish list and if he's smart, he will deal with any offer from Upton Park with a pair of tongs.

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