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Rooney 'fit' for World Cup

So, in a move which had the media agog for a couple of days and devoting as many column inches as it would to the second coming, Wayne Rooney has been passed fit for the World Cup, re-joining the squad in Baden-Baden and sending the very unfortunate Jermaine Defoe back home.

Cutting through all the hype of how England can now 'do it' and Sven's rather bullish assertion that Rooney is fully fit, what is the actual state of Rooney's fitness?

Although Rooney was pictured training and there are claims his fitness tests put him in the upper group of the squad, the facts are he has not played competitive football, kicked a ball in anger or been tackled for around a month so in that respect he is playing catch-up from day one.

With due respect to Paraguay and Trinidad & Tobago, a Rooney-less England should still be able to dispatch them to qualify before the Sweden game so it is possible that he will not play any part until the second round game (with the possibility of seeing some action against Sweden likely).

There has been a lot of debate about formations and replacements in the warm-up games with Gerrard playing in an advanced role before Peter Crouch came in and performed well. I saw Crouch come on for Southampton against City during the 04/05 season and was impressed with him then and believe he is an under rated player. In fact, if there is a doubt over Owen's form and/or fitness I wouldn't hesitate to start with Gerrard alongside Crouch.

That aside, assuming Rooney does not feature early in the tournament and England qualify playing to Crouch's strengths with Owen, what effect will a change in approach to accomodate Rooney have on the team and the momentum built up?

I can envisage a situation where Rooney is brought back for the knock-out stages only for England to then stutter and be knocked out. If Rooney were fit for the opener, or at least the second game then I don't think the effect is too great but the longer it is left before he is brought back then in a perverse way (and despite his obvious talents) the more harm this could have on the make-up of the team.

In his final days Eriksson - perhaps mindful of his media reputation as a cautious operator, he appears to have adopted the role of a gambler for this tournament.

Will gambling on Wayne Rooney become the final legacy during his spell in the England hot seat?