LONDON, England, December 7 – English football, not for the first time, will be waiting to see what happens to Wayne Rooney when the Manchester United striker appeals against a three-game ban that could rule him out of Euro 2012.
Rooney received the ban for kicking out at Miodrag Dzudovic in England’s final qualifier in Montenegro in October but his appeal is set to be heard by UEFA, European football’s governing body, on Thursday.
As it stands Rooney is due to miss England’s three group games against France, Sweden and co-hosts Ukraine.
Although many pundits expect England to qualify from their group, it is by no means certain they will make it through to the second round.
And that means England could travel to Poland and the Ukraine without one of their star players.
England manager Fabio Capello has repeatedly insisted a fit Rooney would be in his squad come what may.
But this week the Italian said he would wait to hear the outcome of Rooney’s appeal first.
“I need to wait. I need to wait and see how the appeal goes this week,” said Capello. “I hope Rooney will be there (at Euro 2012).
“The sentence, three games, was too much for me and I hope the appeal will help us reduce the sentence.
“I hope he’ll be available for the third game. I hope they understand our lawyer, what Rooney says and what I will say at the committee.”
Adrian Bevington, managing director of Club England, told BBC Radio 5Live’s Sportsweek programme that England’s Football Association are determined to put together a strong legal case, so they have brought in outside help.
“We have spoken at length with our own internal lawyers on this, and also we have been working with an external legal firm as well, who have a great deal of expertise in sports law,” Bevington said.
“Wayne will attend the hearing – Fabio will also be there to give evidence.
“I believe the evidence provided by the Montenegrin player, who was quite supportive of Wayne after the game, will also be part of our case.
“I don’t want to say too much more about what our case will be because it would be inappropriate to do so before the hearing, but we go there with the hope of at least getting some reduction in the suspension so Wayne can play a more fulsome part in the tournament.
“All we can do is go with the best legal advice that we have, and with the way that Wayne, Fabio and those of us involved present ourselves on the day and appeal to UEFA to look favourably on it.”
Before the hearing, United have a Champions League tie away to Basel on Wednesday and with the Old Trafford side still requiring a point to book their place in the last 16, club boss Sir Alex Ferguson expects Rooney to attend to on-field matters first.
“I don’t think that comes into it at all,” said Ferguson when asked if the hearing was likely to affect Rooney’s approach.
“He has a game tomorrow. An important game.”