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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Eriksson positive about Rooney's World Cup chances


WATFORD, England (AP) -- England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson said yesterday he was "very positive" that Wayne Rooney would be ready to play at the World Cup. Eriksson even hinted Rooney might be able to go in England's opening game against Paraguay on June 10. He said he'd know more after the Manchester United striker had another scan Thursday on his broken foot.

"I've always been very positive -- maybe more with my heart than with my head -- and I'm quite sure Wayne Rooney will at some stage during the World Cup be ready," Eriksson said. "I strongly believe that, but on Friday we will know much better."

England team doctor Leif Sward said Rooney was making a "perfect recovery." Rooney broke a bone in his right foot April 29 while playing for United. The 20-year-old Rooney has been riding a bicycle and spending time in an oxygen chamber to speed up recovery, but hasn't kicked a ball yet.

"He is not allowed to do that or anything else that could make his foot worse before Thursday's examination," Sward told The Sun newspaper in Monday's editions. "But he can put pressure on his foot now with the special protection he is wearing." Eriksson said Rooney was working "very, very hard doing everything possible" to recover. "He thinks he'll be OK," Eriksson said.

England plays a 'B' international Thursday against Belarus and Eriksson said he would start Michael Owen and Peter Crouch up front and give 17-year-old rookie Theo Walcott a run later in the game. Owen has only played 30 minutes this year after breaking a bone in his foot Dec. 31. The Newcastle striker has said he's fully fit, despite the lack of match practice.

England plays Hungary and Jamaica in its final two World Cup tuneups in Manchester next week before traveling to Germany on June 4. Its other World Cup group games are against Trinidad and Tobago on June 15 and Sweden on June 20.



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