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Wayne Rooney: Man Utd and England captain's pre-tournament injuries

Wayne Rooney's absence has already been felt as Manchester United fell to a 2-1 defeat at FC Midtjylland on Thursday night. The 30-year-old has a nasty habit of sustaining injuries in the build-up to major international tournaments -- and could be out for two months with his latest knee injury -- but could his historical issues be avoided with a more manageable workload?

The England captain's knee complaint was only revealed after the 2-1 defeat to Sunderland, a game in which he played the full 90 minutes, and he is never one to shy away from a heavy workload. Indeed, in United's 10 games up to his injury, only two outfield players had featured in every minute in all competitions: Rooney and Chris Smalling.

"Non-contact injuries, if this is what it was, stem from a series of factors including cumulative workload and fatigue," Michael Davison, managing director of Isokinetic Medical Group, FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence, told ESPN FC. "Previous injury is the great single risk factor for future injury. Age is not identified within the top 15 risk factors."

From his first major tournament, Euro 2004, when he limped off with a cracked metatarsal, there have been difficulties. Here is an examination of how he has been hurt in the build-up to a tournament in recent years.

April 2006, ahead of World Cup in Germany - Fractured metatarsal (foot)

- 2005-06 Man United workload, pre-injury: 4,039 minutes (equivalent of 44.88 matches)

- England workload, pre-injury: 515 minutes (5.72 matches)

- Total workload that season before injury: 4,554 minutes (50.6 matches)

- Appearances until injury: 54 (21 goals, 12 yellow cards, 1 red card)

How was the injury sustained?

A seemingly innocuous challenge from Chelsea's Paulo Ferreira led to Rooney being carried off. It was later discovered that he had suffered a fractured metatarsal bone in his right foot, which was a blow with just six weeks left to go until the World Cup. Rooney made the tournament, but failed to score a goal and was sent off against Portugal as England went out in the quarterfinals.

March 2010, ahead of World Cup in South Africa - Ankle injury

- 2009-10 Man United workload, pre-injury: 3,376 minutes (37.51 games)

- England workload, pre-injury: 495 minutes (5.5 matches)

- Total workload that season before injury: 3,871 minutes (43.01 games)

- Appearances until injury: 47 (35 goals, 7 yellow cards)

How was the injury sustained?

Rooney left Old Trafford on crutches, and with a protective cast on his foot, after a tangle with Bayern Munich's Mario Gomez. The damage was sustained to his right ankle and he had to be helped off by the United physio. Sir Alex Ferguson had picked Rooney for that second leg match at Old Trafford, despite the player initially developing the problem in the first leg. He managed just 55 minutes of the home game. The striker recovered in time for the tournament again, but did not score as England fell 4-1 to Germany in the round of 16.

February 2016, ahead of European Championships in France - Knee injury

- 2015-16 Man United workload, pre-injury: 2,745 minutes (30.5 games)

- England workload, pre-injury: 256 minutes (2.84 games)

- Total workload that season before injury: 3,001 minutes (33.34 games)

- Appearances until injury: 36 (17 goals, 2 yellow cards)

How was the injury sustained?

Rooney played the full 90 minutes against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Saturday and it was only afterwards that the seriousness of his injury became apparent. Manager Louis van Gaal said afterwards that he did not know if the injury had been worsened by Rooney's willingness to play until the end despite the problem.

What are the conclusions?

As the years have gone by, Rooney's injuries have come after a lower number of minutes in the season but the correlation between his workload and an injury in the second half of the season is clear. The 30-year-old is a key player for club and country, but there are negative repercussions to being so and lessons must be learned from his latest setback.

Arindam is ESPN FC's Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @ARejSport.


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