England midfielder Steven Gerrard fears it will be 'impossible to have a successful World Cup without Wayne Rooney' after the Manchester United striker fractured his foot.
The Liverpool captain is concerned Rooney could now suffer the same World Cup injury horror he himself experienced four years ago.
Rooney was carried off at Chelsea yesterday and subsequent x-rays diagnosed a broken fourth metatarsal in his right foot.
The most optimistic outlook is that he will be out for six weeks, which would take him right up to England's first group match against Paraguay on June 10 in Frankfurt.
Rooney's participation in Euro 2004 was ended early when he broke his fifth metatarsal in the same foot - and on that occasion he did not play again for 10 weeks.
'Any team without Wayne Rooney isn't as strong. In my eyes he is one of the world's best players now at 20,' said Gerrard, who is one of fellow Scouser Rooney's closest friends in the England squad.
'It would be a disaster for England if we had to go to the World Cup finals without Wayne. He is idolised around the country and is our main man.
'I think it is impossible to have a successful World Cup without Wayne.'
Gerrard knows only too well the anguish of being ruled out of a World Cup with injury as he had to withdraw from the squad that went to the Far East in 2002 because he needed a groin operation.
'I know Wayne will be desperate to go, so fingers crossed he can recover quickly from this,' added Liverpool's inspirational captain.
'Hopefully he won't have to go through what I went through in 2004. From experience I can tell him that it is a nightmare back home watching a World Cup on the TV.'
With former Reds striker Michael Owen also complaining of discomfort yesterday after his first run-out for more than four months after also fracturing a metatarsal, England's options up front could be severely compromised.
'I do not want to talk about the situation over what alternatives there are and what chance it gives to other people to play,' said Gerrard.
'Let's just keep our fingers crossed that Wayne does go to the World Cup.
'If it is not to be, obviously it is an opportunity for other players - Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe and Darren Bent - but I would much prefer to have a fit Wayne Rooney in the starting XI.'