Rooney's ankle back in spotlight

Slovenia's Miso Brecko tackles England's Wayne Rooney, right, during World Cup play in Port...

Slovenia's Miso Brecko tackles England's Wayne Rooney, right, during World Cup play in Port Elizabeth. (REUTERS/Dylan Martinez)

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:51 PM ET

PORT ELIZABETH -- It will be prodded, poked, pinched and pricked.

In the coming days, there will be doctors on British TV stations explaining how it works and diagrams of it splashed in the Fleet Steet tabloids showing exactly where any defects might be.

Yes, Wayne Rooney's ankle is about to become famous again, whether it likes it or not.

Late in England's do-or-die match against Slovenia on Wednesday, Rooney's ankle appeared to give way on the soft plush turf of Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. Rooney soon would be taking off in favour of Joe Cole in the 76th minute, a move manager Fabio Capella said was predicated by Rooney's hobbling.

"His ankle was not so good," Capello said after the 1-0 English victory, one which allowed the English to advance into the second round. "He had problems."

Apparently, no big problems, however. Not big enough for Capello to fear that Rooney won't be ready to go in Bloemfontein on Sunday for England's Round of 16 game.

In fact, the English manager fully expects Rooney to be able to make the start, insisting that this is not a big issue.

Knowing the British press, it will be.

Rooney's history with the ankle dates back to early April when he suffered minor ligament damage in a Champions League game against Bayern Munich, causing alarm bells to go off among the vocal English faithful.

One thing in England's favour: Because they finished second in Group C, they will not have to play their Round of 16 match until Sunday rather than Saturday, which is when the group winner -- in this case, the U.S. -- will take to the field,

That will give Rooney's ankle an extra day to heal, which could be huge.

Rooney was in no mood to discuss the ailment as he snarled past reporters in the stadium's mixed zone en route to the team bus. Perhaps it was because of the ankle, Or perhaps it was the fact that he has yet to pot a World Cup goal in his young career.

Admittedly he did have chances. Four shots at goal, two on goal and a solid goal post was evidence of that.

Of course, it doesn't matter that he has yet to find the back of the net in South Africa 2010. It only matters that he does it going forward.

If his ankle allows him to.

mike.zeisberger@sunmedia.ca


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