Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney's estimated two-month injury absence will force Roy Hodgson into looking at alternative options to lead the England attack and can be a boost for the national team ahead of the summer's European Championships, according to former defender Stuart Pearce. Rooney, the country's highest ever international goalscorer, is expected to be out for the next two months with a knee ligament problem and will miss the friendly double-header against Germany and Holland in March.
Following a slow start to the season, the 30-year-old has begun 2016 in sparkling form with seven goals and three assists in nine games. The run of impressive form had seen him go within six goals of the 250 needed to surpass Sir Bobby Charlton as the Old Trafford club's record goalscorer.
However, Rooney's attempts to write himself into United's record books have been all-but derailed by a knee issue which could keep him out of the club's next 15 matches in all competitions, starting in the Europa League last 32 first leg against FC Midtjylland. The skipper is also in line to miss the key Premier League games against Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur in a significant blow to Louis van Gaal's side's attempts to qualify for the Champions League.
But the news, which represents a blow to United's domestic and European aspirations and leaves them without 13 first team players, could yet be a boost for England. With Rooney's injury prognosis not expected to affect his fitness for the Euro 2016, like with previous international tournaments, the spell away from the game gives the chance for Hodgson's leading striker to rest ahead of the rigours of the summer. And according to ex-England full-back Pearce Hodgson will now use the warm-up fixtures to test other players in the attack.
"I think it's a real bonus, although Wayne won't see it like that," Pearce told Sky Sports. "It freshens him up for the summer and gives Roy [Hodgson] the chance to look at a few of the other players. If Wayne was in the squad I think Roy would have felt obliged to play him in the warm-up games and that blocks a place for one of the younger players to come in and get some experience. We know what he can do and I don't think we would have learned anything from playing in the friendlies."
"It certainly will affect [United] because they need forwards," he added. "They needed a forward to supplement Wayne Rooney so without him they're very, very short up front. They will miss him quite badly but they're not chasing the title, they're not chasing the Champions League, so the impact will only be seen in the Europa League."