As a string of leading Fantasy assets line up with sick-notes for their International Managers, we cast an observational eye from the physio over Wayne Rooney’s ankle and Theo Walcott’s hip…
First in line and nursing what Alex Ferguson described as an “ankle knock”, comes Wayne Rooney. If we observe Rooney’s movements throughout the second half in the dramatic 3-2 win at Villa Park we witness the versatile forward moving with ease and agility, twisting and turning with pace. These are movements of high intensity that test the full integrity of the ankle joint; they would certainly isolate any injury if present.
The only incident of note involving Rooney occurred in the 76th minute as the United frontman nudges the ball past an Aston Villa defender and, in an attempt to twist and sprint away, gets caught with a late tackle around the front of the mid-shin area. A tackle more akin to a forceful “ankle-tap” where the players own forward momentum, rather than the force of the impact, causes the fall. The tackle and the fall looked innocuous and of a type not readily associated with ankle damage. Rooney did, however, look totally fatigued at this point.
Rooney continued playing for a further five minutes in which time he demonstrated the same movement fluidity shown consistently throughout the half, performing several high intensity manoeuvres without impediment or reaction. Movements around the ankle joints were performed fully and without constraint, indeed, when substituted, Rooney jogged at a mid-pace to the side of the pitch, where he spoke to Sir Alex and, in fairness, appeared to look just a little anxious.
All things considered, I would suggest that Rooney sustained only mild soft tissue damage of a severity that, with treatment, should resolve within a week. This would give him every chance of being fit and firing as United take on Norwich at Carrow Road.
We can also be positive with our assessment of Theo Walcott’s hip. Following the clash with Fulham Arsene Wenger offered this initial appraisal:
“Walcott has a Glute muscle problem. We nearly took him off at half-time, he nearly went down, but we left him on. In the end, it got worse. At the moment, he is limping so I do not know whether he will be able to join the national team or not.”
This statement suggests that the Arsenal medics were aware of any problems and deemed them minor enough for Walcott to resume playing with a low risk of further deterioration. This would indicate that the injury wasn’t a major concern and could dissipate with further activity.
An observation of his subsequent physiological movements adds credibility to the half-time judgment. Walcott can be observed moving with the freedom, fluidity and versatility, performing a range of high intensity movements that would offer no cause for concern from the perspective of a physiotherapist.
Walcott did, however, appear to be involved in a collision that the camera didn’t catch. In the aftermath of the incident the camera cuts to him looking forlorn, leaning forward with hands on knees, not touching anywhere specifically, actions that would not indicate significant injury. Indeed, immediately after this incident Walcott can be seen sprinting and turning with the ball to cross high into the penalty-box, movements at the hip joint that would cause a reaction if any problem lingered.
Substituted in the 84th minute the England International can be seen jogging to the side of the pitch, he then slows to a walk, with just the faintest hint of a limp.
In summary, barring no underlying problems, it would be fair to suggest that Walcott is nursing a soft tissue injury of minor severity, that, with treatment, should be resolved within seven days. Chances are high that the Arsenal winger will have his hat to throw in in the ring as Arsenal go toe-to-toe with local rivals Spurs at the Emirates this weekend.