Teenager Rooney, Murphy pull out of England team

LONDON: Everton’s teenage striker Wayne Rooney and Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy have pulled out of England’s squad to face South Africa in a friendly in Durban next Thursday. 

Rooney has failed to recover from a knee injury but could join up with the England squad on Friday ahead of a training camp in Spain. Murphy has a neck problem and will be out for the summer, missing the European Championship qualifier against Slovakia on June 11. 

“Wayne Rooney has had to withdraw from England’s squad for the game against South Africa,” the English FA said in a statement yesterday. 

“The England medical staff together with Everton’s physio today assessed Wayne’s knee injury in London and agreed that the player should return to his club for treatment. 

“It was also agreed that Wayne will remain with Everton for the remainder of the week with a view to joining the England squad for the trip to La Manga (in Spain). (England coach) Sven-Goran Eriksson and (Everton manager) David Moyes were also present at the examination.” 

Rooney damaged knee ligaments in Everton’s last Premier League game of the season against Manchester United on May 11 and Moyes said straight after the match that the 17-year-old would not be fit to travel to South Africa. 

The Everton manager pleaded with Eriksson not to include Rooney in the squad but England’s coach named him anyway saying the young striker would have to report to the England hotel on Sunday to be examined by the medical staff. 

But Eriksson, who has been embarrassed in the past by taking the word of club managers about injured players only to see them make miraculous recoveries, has had to concede that Rooney is genuinely not fit enough to feature against South Africa. 

Eriksson’s plans have also been hit by Murphy's longer-term absence. The midfielder picked up his neck injury warming up before the Premier League game against Fulham on April 12 and has been playing through the pain barrier since. – Reuters 

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