(PRWEB) June 4, 2006 -- Sven pins England's hopes on Rooney
“ He’s been afraid of being injured because he’s coming from a big injury. ”
England may be the birthplace of association football (aka soccer
Distinguish yourself as a soccer player!
EduKick Soccer Schools Schools & Camps...call us toll-free today to discuss at 1-866-338-5425!
), but The Beautiful Game comes from a broken home.
Only once has the English national team won the World Cup, and that was way back in 1966. With that in mind, perhaps coach Sven-Goran Eriksson should be cut a little slack. He’s been pilloried in the press for the unconventional choices he made in assembling the team that will try to end 40 years of World Cup frustration this month. The talent level is unquestionable; whether that talent is going to be ready for the most important sports tournament on the planet remains to be seen.
Eriksson’s controversial choices include striker Theo Walcott (17 years old) and midfielder Aaron Lennon (19), neither of whom has played on the national team before. Walcott hasn’t even played a first-team game for his English Premier League employers from Arsenal yet. He was reportedly studying for a driving test at the time of Eriksson’s announcement.
The pressure on Walcott to perform will be intense. Eriksson’s other choices for striker are Wayne Rooney, Michael Owen and Peter Crouch. Rooney and Owen are both trying to recover from foot injuries in time for the World Cup, leaving Walcott and Crouch the only healthy strikers on the team. Charlton’s Darren Bent, who led the EPL this season with 18 goals, wasn’t even named as a standby player.
Fans of the Three Lions breathed a little easier Friday after Rooney was spotted running sprints and kicking the ball at the Carrington training ground where Manchester United’s finest work out. It was originally believed Rooney would not be able to play for England until the second round of the World Cup; a bone scan scheduled for this upcoming Wednesday could move up his timetable.
As for Owen, the 2001 European Footballer of the Year and one of the most popular players of the past decade is on target to start England’s Cup opener against Paraguay on June 10. “I think Michael has been very focused on the World Cup for a long time now,” Eriksson told reporters. “He’s been afraid of being injured because he’s coming from a big injury. But big games and Owen are close friends.”
The man they call “Saint Michael” will be featured up front with Crouch in a 4-4-2 system; Eriksson had been testing out a 4-1-4-1 set-up in Tuesday’s friendly against Hungary, which England won 3-1. Owen is also one of Eriksson’s choices to take penalty kicks in a shoot-out situation, joining David Beckham, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard. Owen Hargreaves, another odd choice to join the national team this year despite collecting 32 caps since 2001, has the inside edge on the fifth spot thanks to his scoring prowess with Bayern Munich. Ashley Cole and John Terry are in the mix, as well.
Not all the injury news is encouraging for the English side. Defender Gary Neville, who missed the 2002 World Cup with the same foot problems that have dogged Rooney and Owen (and Beckham, whose health at the 2002 Cup was also in question), had to be pulled from the friendly against Hungary after just one half because of a lingering hamstring injury. Neville was also excluded from England’s final World Cup warmup on Saturday against Jamaica; however, the most experienced of Eriksson’s defenders should be fine to travel to Germany with the team on Monday and resume training immediately. Liverpool’s Jamie Carragher was the likely candidate to take Neville’s place against Jamaica.
Rooney’s improving health is absolutely vital to England’s Cup chances. Despite his injury, he is near the top of the odds list at 15-1 to score the most goals at the tournament; Brazil’s Ronaldo and Adriano lead the way at 11-1. This is testament to Rooney’s amazing ability to find the back of the onion bag – a preternatural skill that was first showcased to an international audience at Euro 2004. Rooney scored four goals in that event at the tender age of 18, prompting Eriksson to draw comparisons to the great Pelé. Perhaps Eriksson sees the same potential in Walcott.
England is listed at 8-1 to win the tournament, second only behind the runaway favorites from Brazil at 7-2. England is also 3-2 to finish on top of Group B, with Sweden pegged at 11-4 to join Rooney and Co. in the second round. The other two clubs in Group B are Paraguay (7-1 to win the group, 201-1 for the Cup) and Trinidad & Tobago (41-1; 1001-1).
For further information on this wagering option or any other sports betting or casino opportunities, please visit Eye On Gambling (http://www.eog.com
) and the EOG Forums (http://www.eog.com/forums/
Eye on Gambling (www.eog.com
About Eye On Gambling:
EOG is a gambling information portal providing current news and editorial on a wide range of sports betting and poker topics. Segments include Industry News, Sports News, Poker Insights, quantitative and qualitative sports data, Live Odds, Live Scoring, Free and Paid Picks, online Poker, and a Posting Forum community. EOG.com features distinguished sports gambling writers such as Doyle Brunson, Russ Culver, Dave Cokin, Stephen Nover, Reed Holmes, Buzz Daly, Ken Weitzner, Mike Murray and many more.