Injury rules Rooney out for two to four weeks

WAYNE Rooney will be missing for between two and four weeks after spraining his right ankle.

The Manchester United and England striker was hurt in the final minute of Tuesday's 2-1 loss at Bayern Munich in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final. It is understood that he has not broken any bones.

Rooney is set to miss Saturday's crucial Premier League clash with Chelsea at Old Trafford and the return leg against Bayern Munich at the same venue on Wednesday.

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An absence of two weeks would also rule him out of the league match against Blackburn Rovers.

Three weeks would mean Rooney also misses the derby at Manchester City. If out for a month, the striker will be sidelined for the league game against Tottenham Hotspur and possibly a Champions League semi-final against Lyon or Bordeaux – if United get through.

With Michael Owen out for the rest of the season, United are left with Dimitar Berbatov as the only fit senior striker.

Rooney flew back to Manchester yesterday with his right foot in a protective boot. United wasted no time in getting a medical assessment on the ankle.

After waiting patiently on the Finnair flight that brought him back to England for his fellow passengers to disembark, Rooney limped off, with the aid of his crutches, straight to a waiting car that whisked him off for a scan.

Rather more time will elapse before Sir Alex Ferguson reveals the extent of the injury in his normal briefing tomorrow ahead of the massive Premier League encounter with Chelsea.

By then, England manager Fabio Capello will have made his call, but if the striker's injury is confirmed as a sprained ankle it would be little cause for concern for the World Cup.

"I will speak to him today or tomorrow morning," said Capello. "I was not happy, but I'm not happy whenever any England players get injured. It is too early to say how badly he is injured. We need to wait for a scan."

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Although he could not say it, privately Capello must think that if the injury keeps Rooney out for two or three weeks, it will have worked out perfectly. After all, as what is thought to be a sprained ankle heals, Rooney will be getting some rest that could prove vital to England in South Africa in the summer.

Any injury at all is bad news for United Sir Alex Ferguson.

Meanwhile Alan Hansen insists that Rooney's fitness is of "mega" consequence to England and United.

Asked about how important Rooney's fitness is to country and club, former Liverpool defender and Match of the Day pundit Hansen stated: "It is mega."

He added: "He has not just the talent, the ability and the quality, but the other attributes that set him apart. That's the enthusiasm, the energy and the willingness to win, where he hates getting beaten.