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Fantasy follow-up: Week 18

Premier Fantasy
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Rewind to Boxing Day 1963

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By ESPN Staff

I can fill Rooney's boots, insists Cole

Joe Cole has told Sven-Goran Eriksson he can fill the void created by Wayne Rooney should the Manchester United striker miss the World Cup.

Rooney is extremely doubtful for this summer's tournament after it was confirmed he has broken more than one bone in his right foot.

'We're in the dark about Wayne's injury a bit,' said Cole. 'It's bad luck because he is an important player for us but I would be honoured to step into Wayne's shoes. I would play anywhere the manager wants me to play.

'I have played in most positions before. When you play for England you cannot pick and choose.

'But if he wants me to play that role for England then I will do it. It is no problem.'

The Chelsea man added: 'Obviously, I am a different sort of player to Wayne. He is his own man and a great player, but I would give it a go and do my best for the team.'

Cole, meanwhile, believes no England fan should blame on Blues defender Paulo Ferreira for Rooney's injury.

It was Portugal star Ferreira who was involved in a challenge with Rooney during Saturday's 3-0 title-clinching win over United that resulted in the broken foot.

'It was not Paulo's fault,' added Cole. 'He said he hardly touched him, but is upset that Wayne is injured.

'He didn't get a chance to see Wayne after the game because we were all on the pitch. None of us got the chance to see him.

'I don't think anyone blames Paulo. It was just unfortunate and we are all hoping he gets fit.'

Cole believes England without Rooney is not the end of the squad's World Cup dreams.

'With the management we have we'll be prepared and will do ourselves justice,' insisted Cole.

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, meanwhile, still believes in the honesty of Premiership referees - even if he feels they are biased against his side.

Mourinho was on the wrong end of a poor display from Steve Bennett in last night's 1-0 defeat at Blackburn, with the Kent official failing to award two clear-cut penalties.

It would appear Chelsea's reputation as 'divers' went before them as Bennett waved away appeals, especially for Aaron Mokoena's blatant shirt tug on Hernan Crespo.

On this occasion, with the title in the bag, Mourinho was able to laugh off Bennett's display - and even went so far as to offer excuses for officials.

'I don't have enough fingers to tell you how many penalties we should have had this season,' exclaimed Mourinho.

'But I still think that refereeing in England is not bad. I look to other people and the feeling is positive. I don't get a bad feeling.

'I think they are good, honest people, but sometimes they make mistakes - like I do and players do.

'It's just a question of looking at Chelsea with different eyes because one tackle for us is not the same for others; one penalty for us is not the same for the others.'