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Rooney needs miracle to make World Cup-Eriksson

Written by: Staff
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LONDON, May 3 (Reuters) Wayne Rooney has broken more than one bone in his foot and may need a miracle to play at the World Cup, England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson said today.

Asked if the Manchester United forward had a chance of still going to the finals in Germany, Eriksson said: ''I think so.

Miracles happen in life now and then .. but I really don't know.'' Pressed as to whether a miracle was needed after Saturday's injury against Chelsea, the Swede would only say: ''Maybe''.

England meet Paraguay in their World Cup group opener in Frankfurt on June 10. Eriksson must name his squad by May 15.

Eriksson said he would probably still name the inspirational 20-year-old in his provisional squad on Monday. Though only 23 players will be picked for Germany, a further three or four will be placed on standby.

Rooney is expected to be sidelined for at least six weeks by the injury and, if he plays at all, would only realistically be available if England reach the latter stages of the World Cup.

Eriksson said Rooney had suffered ''more than one'' fracture at Stamford Bridge. ''It's a serious injury and I will be updated tomorrow because our doctor will be going up to Manchester,'' said the Swede.

''I will not rule him out until the doctors tell me there is no chance .. Everyone hopes that he can take part in the World Cup at some stage.'' DEVASTATING BLOW ''I would be stupid to say that it's not bad if he can't play at the World Cup - it would be like Brazil missing Ronaldinho, France missing (Thierry) Henry -- he's one of our absolute best players,'' Eriksson said.

''You can't replace him because he's unique. You can't replace Ronaldinho because you don't have two Ronaldinhos.

''But anyhow we have a very good team, a very good squad and I'm convinced that we are going to do a very, very good World Cup.'' Eriksson said he had a ''long chat'' yesterday with Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson who said on Monday he thought it unlikely Rooney would play any part in the finals.

''He's going to stay in Manchester to do all the recovery, he's going to stay there until he's football fit.'' With Rooney's participation in serious doubt Eriksson at least gave a positive bulletin on striker Michael Owen.

He said the Newcastle forward would be fit for the finals after making his own comeback from breaking a metatarsal in his right foot in December.

Owen played for Newcastle on Sunday and went for tests after reporting some discomfort. X-rays revealed the player had suffered no further damage.

''He will be fit, I am sure about that,'' said Eriksson. ''We will have time to get the fitness we want.'' Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has said Rooney's injury was a ''disaster'' and Eriksson said he had taken an anxious phone call from England skipper David Beckham on Saturday.

''I know that they are concerned,'' he said. ''I had a phone call from our captain one hour after the injury happened, so of course they're worried. They all know what Wayne Rooney can do.'' Eriksson said his other striking options for the finals outside his first-choice pairing of Rooney and Owen were Darren Bent, Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch.

REUTERS PG RK1900

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