Injury rumour rubbished, but Americans plan to wind Wayne up in opener
DAVID BECKHAM will have returned to England’s training camp with one message from his scouting mission to watch the US-Australia warm-up game last week.
Australia were so poor that it is difficult to assess the threat posed by the Americans for today’s World Cup tie.
USA beat Australia 3-1 in Roodepoort last Saturday with Beckham – as part of his role on Fabio Capello’s technical staff – accompanying England general manager Franco Baldini to check on the forthcoming opponents.
A day later the US were intimating that Wayne Rooney was struggling with a hamstring injury.
Nothing, according to the England camp, could have been be further from the truth with Rooney said to be the fittest – and sharpest – he has been for some time in training sessions in Rustenburg.
Missing from training earlier this week were Matthew Upson, who had a temperature, and David James (knee).
The goalkeeper is all but ruled out of today’s match.
Midfielder Gareth Barry’s chances of inclusion are rated at 20 percent.
But will the Americans employ dirty tricks against Rooney?
Their concern over the striker was apparent after their friendly victory over Australia with defender Jay DeMerit, who plays for Watford, saying: “How to stop him? Yeah, good question. I have thought about playing him and I’ve been fortunate enough to play against Rooney a few times.
“We all understand the type of player he is and his world-class ability. The preparations for him in par- ticular, of course, are going to be high.”
There have been suggestions from the US camp that they may try to play on Rooney’s temperament.
“The team know that you try to wind Rooney up, that’s been out there already,” DeMerit said.
“But I think he’s learned over the years, with people telling him, that’s an easy way to get at him. I don’t think it’s as easy to wind Rooney up as people think it is.”
Of England he added: “We all know them. So it is about how we defend against them as an XI and make their day as difficult as possible.
“We are under no illusions as to the huge task we have in the first game but that takes nothing away from our own confidence.
“We respect England’s reputations but we would love to bring them down a little. There is no point coming to the World Cup unless you go in with an attitude like that.”
Against Australia, the US looked defensively vulnerable but were a threat on attack – at times playing with four forwards – and with a new, memorable name springing to the fore: Edson Buddle.
The 29-year-old striker scored twice and impressed with his pace and power.
He is also known to Beckham, being a teammate of the midfielder at LA Galaxy along with Landon Donovan.
“He’s my Galaxy teammate and a friend,” Buddle said of Beckham. “He’s a good pal, absolutely. Hopefully, I will see him when we play England.
“David’s been a massive influence on me.
“To have a quality player like David at Galaxy, you kind of think to yourself: ‘If you can’t score with David on your team serving up balls, then you might as well forget it.’
“Fortunately, it has gone my way and I have been able to play with him.”
Nevertheless the goals were Buddle’s first for the US, in admittedly only his third appearance, having earned his first cap eight years ago before his career was derailed through a series of on-and off-the-field problems.
Buddle – who was named Edson after Pele (his first name), his father Winston’s favourite player – is now ex-
STRAIGHT TALKING: England manager Fabio Capello speaks to Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney, John Terry, Steven Gerrard and Ashley Cole during the England training session in Rustenburg.