International qualifiers have got to be played at sometime. We may not like them but they’re a fact of life. They cause disruptions to the Premier and Champions Leagues, force key players to travel to all corners of Europe and beyond which carry the ever present risk of niggling injuries or worse to be picked up. But much as they are an intrusive annoyance under normal circumstances, they are welcomed with open arms on this particular occasion.
Now that the visit to Sunderland is done and dusted, Sir Alex Ferguson will have the luxury of 14 clear days to draw breath before recommencing the Premier League title chase when West Brom come to Old Trafford in a fortnight. It will give the medical team at Carrington an opportunity to get the injury hit Manchester Unitedsquad back to somewhere near complete fitness.
Ferguson had to cope with a number of crocks recently which presented him with a number of selection headaches. Granted, United have a large squad available but when a number of key players are out of action at the same time, it’s bound to make a managers job that much more difficult.
“Rio, Michael Carrick and Anderson played their first real game for a long time, so we have to look at them and see how they’ve come through it.” Ferguson said after the 1-0 defeat of Valencia “we hope there’s no reaction because playing your first game back in a place likeValencia is not easy, and then there’s the travelling back. That’s one issue we have to deal with.”
Even though Paul Scholes made a surprise recovery to take the field at Sunderland, the break will give him some much needed time to completely recover from his calf problem. Gary Neville and Owen Hargreaves will be two weeks closer to fitness and it will help Ryan Giggs to overcome his hamstring injury. Giggs has stated that he’s happy with the way his problem is responding to treatment “The injury is not too bad” he said “it has settled down quite quickly. Hopefully I will be training at the back end of next week and then I will be ready to play straight after the internationals.”
Then of course there’s Wayne Rooney. It’s obvious that the man needs time to get his ankle completely right AND to get his head together. Ferguson will be hoping that his star striker will not be used by England during the break but is prepared to accept whatever decision manager Fabio Capello makes.
“It is really up to Fabio” he conceded “you are talking about an extra 10 days. By that time we would hope he will definitely be 100 per cent. Wayne wants to play but now we have identified the injury we have to be dead sure we are doing the right thing for him because he has not been doing himself the proper justice.”
The questions that must be asked are whether Rooney will be missed by England in his current form and if both Capello and Ferguson may have far more to gain by allowing the troubled striker to take a desperately needed break from the game.
Does England REALLY need Rooney in his current form?