GERMANY-BOUND ROONEY

THE DECISION TO SEND Rooney (celebrating after scoring in the friendly against Argentina last year) to Germany was reached following an extensive chat between Sir Alex Fergusion and Sven Goran Eriksson.-AP THE DECISION TO SEND Rooney (celebrating after scoring in the friendly against Argentina last year) to Germany was reached following an extensive chat between Sir Alex Fergusion and Sven Goran Eriksson.

Rooney will head to Germany as a scan has revealed that he is making encouraging recovery from a broken foot. However, he will have to return to Manchester on June 14 for the scan that will determine whether he will play any part in the tournament, writes SIMON STONE.

Wayne Rooney has been given the green light to join England's World Cup preparations even though he will not be able to train for another three weeks at the earliest.

After a CT scan revealed the 20-year-old was making encouraging recovery from a broken foot, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has allowed Rooney to head to Germany with Sven-Goran Eriksson's main squad on June 5.

Rooney, however, will have to return to Manchester on June 14 for the scan that will determine whether he will play any part in the tournament. "This is very encouraging news," said Eriksson. "The fact he is flying out to Germany with us will give everyone a huge lift."

The decision was reached following an extensive chat between Ferguson and Eriksson and comes as something of a surprise given that the Manchester United manager indicated his cautious approach to Rooney's recovery had been vindicated by the results of the scan. Rooney will not be able to train until the results of the second scan are known, effectively ruling him out of the entire group phase.

"Wayne has trained incredibly hard," said Ferguson. "We have continually supported Wayne with his fight to get to the World Cup but it is obvious that we have to be certain he is physically and mentally fit. The specialist has confirmed what we have always thought and we are confident in that assessment in that we are satisfied with Wayne's progress."

Ferguson has consistently attempted to play down speculation over Rooney's chances of making it to Germany and is adamant the 20-year-old should not travel with England unless he is 100 per cent fit. However, Eriksson is of the opinion that Rooney should go if there is any chance of him taking part at all. "We are still hoping that the second scan will show further improvement and that Wayne can play his part in the World Cup," said Eriksson.

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Owen is back

England's big-match scorer is back. Striker Michael Owen, who has been in action for only 30 minutes since New Year's Eve 2005 when he broke his metatarsal bone while playing for Newcastle against Tottenham, played an hour in a `friendly' between England `B' and Belarus at Reading. Though the English side, captained by Owen lost 2-1, the match gave England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson and the country's passionate football fans plenty of reasons to be happy. The most important of them was the comfort level of Owen as he played 60 minutes to be substituted by 17-year-old Theo Walcott, who is a surprise inclusion in the World Cup squad. "I felt fine, the foot felt fine," said Owen after the match. He was even instrumental in his team's only goal, when he headed a cross by Stewart Downing against the bar and the rebound was slotted home by Jermaine Jenas. "I feel sharp. I'm pleased I played 60 minutes and it's onwards and upwards now." With Germany looming large, the sky is the limit for the Newcastle striker, who with 35 goals for England in 75 games, is fourth in the list of all-time top scorers for his country behind Bobby Charlton (49 goals), Gary Lineker (48) and Jimmy Greaves (44). Owen and Lineker jointly hold the record of 22 goals for England in competitive matches, namely World Cup and European Championship games and the qualifiers for those tournaments.

Bigger than Victoria and Twain

Weggis, a picturesque little Swiss lakeside village of 4000 inhabitants, is experiencing the biggest event in its history, according to its Mayor, Josef Odermatt. "We have had many dignitaries staying here over the years, from Queen Victoria to Mark Twain," said Odermatt. "But, there has been nothing like this."

`This' refers to the ongoing two-week training camp of the Brazilian team ahead of the World Cup in Germany. The village has seen the conversion of the local amateur team's ground without seats into a 5000-seater practice stadium strictly adhering to FIFA guidelines. An indoor training pitch, a gym and a media centre have also been built to enable the five-time world champions prepare for their sixth title. The training complex is located up the hill from the team hotel, a beautiful five-star resort overlooking Lake Lucerne. The mind-blowing landscape of the village and the presence of the resort tilted things in its favour in the bid for the right to host the Brazilian pre-World Cup training camp; an astounding 800 venues all over Europe were vying for the honour. The village authorities have even removed around 300 pigs from a farm overlooking the stadium. "The stench can be pretty bad when the wind is blowing and I did not want the tabloids to write that Brazil's World Cup preparations had been affected by the smell of my pigs," said Alfred Stoeckil, the farmer who owns the pigs.

Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Kaka, Adriano, Roberto Carlos and co. have already mesmerised the people, who bought up the 48,000 tickets on sale to watch the two-week training session of the world champions within 24 hours. The media and television crew of Brazil and other countries have descended on the village in large numbers. As have Brazilian fans who are on their way to Germany to cheer their team with their Samba drums. For a few more days, Wegiss will be everything other than tranquil. The village certainly is not complaining.