On paper, Manchester United have had the perfect start to the season. They have picked up the maximum amount of points on offer after the first two games and are yet to concede a goal.
Wayne Rooney has been left out of the latest England squad, as coach Fabio Capello tries to come to terms with the fact that they will the team will be forced to play without their star striker in all three of ther Euro 2012 Group games.
Rooney was needlessly sent-off against Montenegro when England were 2-1 up in their final qualification match for Poland-Ukraine 2012. In the referee’s report it said he was sent off for violent conduct – an offence that carries an automatic three match ban. Whilst the FA have appealed against Rooney missing all 3 matches, citing his good behaviour in previous matches, UEFA have upheld the ban.
Because Rooney will be unavailable for the group matches, Capello has had to cast his net wider, to see what other attacking options he could use. Danny Welbeck has already been tried up-front on his own (against Ghana) but struggled to make an impact, whilst the Aston Villa pair of Agbonlahor and Bent have been lacklustre when the claret-and-blues hav faced top-class opposition. Chelsea’s Daniel Sturridge, who has had an encouraging start to the season after a great year on loan at Bolton last year, is likely to be given his chance against Spain on Saturday, and looks the most likely to succeed in winning a first-team spot.
By the looks of it, Capello has written off the hopes of Michael Owen, Emile Heskey, Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe, all of whom have been left out along with Rooney.
England play Spain on Saturday evening at their new Wembley home, in a match that is being televised live on ITV. They then follow it up with a midweek friendly against Sweden (again at Wembley). And they will have to do without wayne Rooney for both.