Date: 31st March 2010 at 1:13pm
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Of course this is the big news. Wayne Rooney, England’s only hope in South Africa, is out with an ankle injury and who knows when he can return. If it’s a torn ligament he might have to wave goodbye to the World Cup.

But who gives a flying fuck about the World Cup now? Yeah, the entire nation, I know, but for us there is the small matter of a title run-in and a Champions League quarter-final second leg to manage. Rooney’s injury is not looking terrible serious, according to Sir Alex Ferguson but judged by his inability to walk and that he left Allianz Arena on crutches, it’s fair to assume he’ll have to miss the games against Chelsea and Bayern.

That would be a massive, massive blow, no denying it. But it still would not be the end of the world, for a few reasons.

First, Chelsea’s defence is ravaged by injuries. Ashley Cole, Branislav Ivanovic, Ricardo Carvalho and José Bosingwa are all out of Saturday’s game which means that the entire back four, Terry apart, will be made up of squad players. Alex and Zhirkov are good players and Ferreira is a competent one but their lack of understanding could bite them.

As for Bayern: with one of the most disjointed performances of the decade, let alone the season, we still created 3-4 real chances away from home, such was the uncertainty in their defence. Even without Rooney, it’s difficult to see Bayern emerging from Old Trafford with a clean sheet so we’ll have every chance of overturning the deficit.

It has gone unnoticed by most pundits and casual fans but Dimitar Berbatov is actually in quite good form these days, even if Fergie does not count on him in the biggest games as to do so he would have to leave out Rooney or weaken his midfield and he likes to do neither. But it might be that Berba will be inspired by the knowledge that he’s the main man in attack now, that he’ll be expected to be the star of the show. He relished that at Spurs and seems to miss it. Now would be his perfect chance to show his credentials, at last.

Van der Sar – Rafael/Neville, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra – Carrick, Fletcher – Valencia, Park, Nani – Berbatov

This, on paper, is a really good team, capable of beating anybody. It lacks the consistent brilliance of Rooney and if this was our first choice team for an entire season we wouldn’t be fighting for the title but we should not think it can’t do a job in a few games. We do not need to look far for inspiration: Bayern Munich have just beaten one of the strongest teams in the business without their best player, Arjen Robben. And we have better players than Bayern even if this wasn’t apparent last night…

Having said that, I will be as happy as Larry if it turns out Rooney is OK. Even if we trust Berbatov, it does not bode well to face the run-in with a grand total of one fit striker plus Federico Macheda…