Wayne Rooney has pulled out of England's final 2010 FIFA World Cup™ qualifier with Belarus on Wednesday with a calf strain picked up during Saturday's 1-0 defeat in Ukraine.
After having the injury assessed at England's training base in Hertfordshire, he has been released back to club side Manchester United. The news is a shock because if anyone was expected to pull out, it had been Rooney's close friend, and Liverpool skipper, Steven Gerrard.
Whereas Gerrard only lasted until half-time at the Dnipro Arena yesterday, Rooney got through the entire game, turning in a spirited performance for an England side reduced to ten men after 15 minutes following the dismissal of Robert Green.
Though Gerrard has been given the all-clear to remain with the England camp for the final match of a successful Group 6 campaign, Rooney must now undergo treatment in the hope of being fit for United's Premier League encounter with Bolton.
He will also be making the reverse journey to Ben Foster, who was named as Green's replacement given the West Ham keeper is now suspended for the Belarus encounter, one of only three remaining before Fabio Capello has to name his squad for next summer's finals.
Unless injury hits one of his other four strikers, Capello is unlikely to call in a replacement. The Italian has the option of pushing Gerrard into a more advanced position, which he plays in so successfully for Liverpool.
Alternatively, he could pair Carlton Cole with Emile Heskey, or possibly Aston Villa's Gabriel Agbonlahor, who was an unused substitute yesterday.