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Wayne Rooney injured: How bad is it, and what it means for Manchester United

Aug 25, 2012, 3:16 PM EST

Rooney receives treatment on an injured knee before being stretchered off the pitch during their English Premier League soccer match against Fulham at Old Trafford in Manchester Reuters

We hinted at it in our Offshore Drilling, but the Wayne Rooney injury deserves a little more attention.

The how, in case you missed it: Rooney was running toward Hugo Rodellega late in Saturday’s match, trying to close down the Fulham attacker to prevent a 26-yard shot on goal. Late arriving, Rooney slid under the shot, and as Rodallega’s right foot came back down, he stepped on the inside of Rooney’s right thigh (just above the knee).

Quickly, blood started streaming down Rooney’s leg, a spike from Rodallega’s shoe creating a deep gash you could see trainers applying pressure to close. Eventually Rooney’s thigh was wrapped and the United attacker stretchered from the field.

Two seasons back, United fans witnessed a similar though more malicious incident. Then, Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher went studs up into Manchester United winger Nani, the tackle creating a long cut in the attacker’s shin. Nani, cut open on March 4, 2011, returned to face Marseille in Champions League on March 15.

Early word on Rooney is that he could miss four weeks. Obviously, we’re not doctors, but we can look back at the speculation surrounding Nani’s injury and see initial estimates exaggerated the time he’d miss. Instead of missing three games, Nani only missed one, though it’s understandable why people would exaggerate. With something as graphic as one of these cuts, it’s natural to think the worse.

But let’s go ahead and assume Rooney does miss 28 days. It’s not the worst time to do so. Manchester United has upcoming league matches with Southampton, Wigan and Liverpool, and while nobody ever wants to miss a North West Derby, at least he’s not missing a Manchester Derby. Or Chelsea. Or Arsenal.

He’ll also miss an international break in September: World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and (more importantly) Ukraine. At Euro 2012, Ukraine was the only Group D nation England didn’t play without a suspended Wayne Rooney.

Perhaps more important than who United (and England) play is who Rooney would have been playing with. As we saw on Monday, Rooney has needs time to get used to Shinji Kagawa and Robin van Persie. Today, with Rooney on the bench, United looked much better than they did on against Everton (though the circumstances and opponent were much different). Even though the Red Devils’ looked strong on Saturday, they won’t be at their best until all their attacking talent is used to each other. Now, the process of getting there is on hold for a month.

But that’s if Rooney really is out for that long. Right now, all we have to go on is a quote from Alex Ferguson, who presumably talked to Manchester United’s medical staff. Given the nature of the injury, we’re likely to know much more at this time next week.

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