England striker Wayne Rooney could serve a shorter ban than expected for being sent off in the Euro 2012 qualifier in Montenegro due to the his calm reaction to the referee’s decision.
German official Wolfgang Stark dismissed Rooney for kicking out at Miodrag Dzudovic in the second half of England’s 2-2 draw on Friday and the Manchester United star is certain to miss the first game of next year’s Euro 2012 finals as a result.
It had been suggested that Rooney’s suspension could be increased to two matches given the mindless nature of the offence.
That would depend on how UEFA view the incident which occurred just 17 minutes from time as England booked their place in Poland and Ukraine.
But Stark has praised Rooney, who was also sent off in the 2006 World Cup quarter-final against Portugal, for how he accepted the decision and said that may improve the former Everton player’s chances of being dealt a more lenient penalty.
“He accepted it without dissent. Maybe it will help Rooney the way he acted by accepting my decision,” Stark said in the Mail on Sunday.
“It was a straight red card. I had no hesitation. You saw what happened and Rooney knew by his reaction. He just walked off.
“I have no more input into the process. I will submit my report and it is up to UEFA what they will do.”
England coach Fabio Capello revealed that Rooney apologised immediately after the match and the Italian conceded it was impossible to control his striker’s actions while he is on the pitch.
“I can’t enter into the head of Wayne Rooney when he plays. I can speak before. I can substitute him. I can find different solutions. But you cannot understand during the game why things happen,” Capello said.
England captain John Terry is adamant Rooney’s moment of madness shouldn’t detract from the key role he played in helping his country to the finals.
“I think it’s important to realise that without Wayne we wouldn’t be in this position,” Terry said.
“He has been absolutely magnificent for England and I hope people don’t criticise him too much. The important thing is we got the right result and we’re through.”
With or without Rooney, England still have plenty of room for improvement before they can be regarded as serious contenders at Euro 2012.
Capello was furious with the way England squandered a two-goal lead against Montenegro and slammed their play in the closing minutes before half-time when the hosts got their first goal.
“It’s really important to be focused all the game,” he said. “At half-time I said to the players they played really well for 35 minutes but the last 10 minutes they didn’t play like professionals. They played too relaxed.”
England’s problems could be brutally exposed by world champions Spain when Vicente del Bosque’s side arrive at Wembley for a friendly next month and Capello admits he would have preferred less demanding opposition.
“We are contracted to play Spain. We played them away and this is the return,” he said.
“I would prefer to play against another team. It will be interesting.”