Monday, 29 March 2010

So Rio and Wayne can play for United. Fan-bloody-tastic. It's England we care about. And here's their final schedule.

SO Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand both checked in at Manchester Airport this morning for United's Champions League quarter-final clash against Bayern Munich tomorrow night. Fan-bloody-tastic.

To be frank, I don't really care about their fitness for the Red Devils. Sure, I hope they beat the Germans. But I'd be a lot happier to see England beat their national team in just over two months' time.

Top of the Premier League and granted a far easier route through the Champions League than English rivals Arsenal - who face Barcelona in the last eight - United have plenty of depth. At the back they've got Vidic, Evans, the currently crocked Brown and O'Shea while up front they can turn to Berbatov, Macheda, Diouf and injured pair Wellbeck or Owen.

They regularly survive without Rio, the England captain, and Rooney, the England spearhead. Just last Saturday, they crushed Bolton 4-0 without either of their star turns.

But what about England, with the World Cup looming? Ferdinand, installed as England captain after the denouement of John Terry, told us just last week in the News of the World about his bad back. He said it had been career threatening, that he was "walking like an old man".

But then he said, after words with Sir Alex Ferguson and revolutionary treatment, he was fine again. But he still missed the Bolton game - with a "minor groin problem".

And Rooney? First he injured "inflamed" knee tendons and we were told he was in "increasing discomfort". So he came on late in the Carling Cup final... but was back for the Champions League clashes with AC Milan before missing the Bolton game - this time with "bruising of the foot".

So here we have England's two key players struggling for fitness. They're not up to playing against Bolton, but they both turn out against Bayern.

And Sir Alex, that tough Glaswegian from the Clyde, will not have England's best interests at heart as he attempts to secure dominance in the Premier League and in Europe.

With a maximum of 11 games to go we can safely assume Sir Alex will coax England's key duo through to the end of the season - but will they fall at the finish line? Will they get to the Champions League final on May 22... and be up for those awful friendlies against Mexico and Japan before the flight to South Africa on June 2?

Somehow, I think these two will be even more jaded, more likely to buckle, than the rest of them. Let's look how the end of the season will pan out for the England players:

Sunday, May 9: Premier League final fixtures.
Tuesday, May 11: Fabio Capello names provisional 30-man World Cup squad.
Saturday May 15: FA Cup final.
Monday, May 17: Squad travels to Austria training camp.
Saturday, May 22: Champions League Final at the Bernebeu.
Monday, May 24: Friendly v Mexico at Wembley.
Sunday, May 30: Friendly v Japan in Graz. Squad flies home.
Tuesday, June 1: Fabio names final 23 for World Cup.
Wednesday, June 2: England depart Heathrow for South Africa.
Thursday, June 3: Arrive at Royal Marang Hotel, Phokeng.
Saturday, June 12: Opening Group C game v USA, Rustenburg.

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