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Rooney’s relentless workload must worry Capello
The striker is far and away United’s most important player this season as he takes up the slack left by Cristiano Ronaldo’s summer move to Real Madrid and his value to his club is matched by that to his country.
Quite simply, United would have no hope of keeping the Premier League title out of Chelsea’s hands without Rooney and England have little chance of winning the World Cup unless he is firing on all cylinders.
Rooney has been sensational for United this season, scoring 15 Premier League goals already, but with precious little margin for error in the scrap for the title manager Alex Ferguson dare not rest him because one more defeat in the league could prove terminal for a side that has stuttered this season.
Barring injury, it is more than likely Rooney will play in United’s remaining 16 league matches and will also be key to their Champions League hopes.
Ferguson is also unlikely to rest him for this week’s League Cup semi-final against Manchester City, although he might be spared from the final should United prevail over two legs.
All Capello can really do is hope that Rooney avoids serious injury and does not burn out in the hectic months ahead. He may even be secretly hoping that United’s Champions League campaign is cut short by AC Milan.
England have never had a problem replacing central defenders, workhorse midfielders and target men. All-round players like Rooney are a rarity in the English game, however, and Capello has no back-up option as far he is concerned.
For that reason alone, England’s odds for winning the World Cup are ludicrously short. They are second favourites behind Spain who seemingly have two or three world class players in every position on the field.
Cesc Fabregas is the best midfielder in England this year by a country mile, yet Spain also have Andres Iniesta and Xavi and Xabi Alonso playing at a similarly high level. Brazil, too, boast far more depth in terms of creative attacking players, as do Argentina.
Capello knows Rooney is is his trump card and the Italian can be excused for watching every United game from here until May with his hands in front of his eyes.
PHOTO: Wayne Rooney throws a cone during a practice session at Al-Sadd club in Doha January 14, 2010. REUTERS/Fadi Al-Assaad