While Rooney is widely considered to be a talismanic figure in the England squad, the latest controversy from a senior England international has tested the public’s patience once again. With recent goal-scoring performances from the likes of Ashley Young and Darren Bent, as well as the likes of Bobby Zamora, Danny Welbeck and Andy Carroll emerging as options in attack for Fabio Capello, many feel Rooney’s inclusion, which could potentially see England eliminated from the tournament before he is eligible to play, would see England begin the competition with weakened numbers in their front line.
With the England support expecting their side to progress beyond the first round, the subsequent availability of Rooney from the first knockout round, would offer a priceless boost to England’s cause. With player burnout being a common topic of debate in the build-up to major international tournaments, the ability to include a world-class player, fresh from a break from playing duties, offers an option unlikely to be mirrored in most rival national sides. Despite the frustrating conclusion of England’s qualifying campaign, Capello’s men will be looking to the summer tournament as an opportunity for redemption, after a disappointing showing at the 2010 World Cup. For many of England’s senior players, this tournament will also be an opportunity to add international honours to impressive lists of medals at club level, many of whom, may face uncertain international futures, with Capello stepping down after the finals.
Although Rooney would surely appear to have a key role to play in England squads for years to come, his exile from the side in the early matches of the tournament offers a window of opportunity to others looking for a starting berth. Should the former Everton striker be selected in Capello’s squad, he also has the potential to motivate his fellow forwards, aware of Rooney’s likely return to action should the opportunity arise. Also, following England’s poor displays at the World Cup, in which England struggled for goals, yet still managed to qualify for the knockout stages before a humiliating exit at the hands of Germany, should Capello’s men require further improvement in the latter stages, the introduction of one of European and world football’s most high-profile forwards could be key to England’s hopes in Poland and Ukraine.