`Without Rooney England will have no chance in WC`

Updated: Apr 28, 2010, 23:15 PM IST

London: England`s 1966 World Cup hero Sir Geoff Hurst believes Fabio Capello`s side only have a chance of victory in South Africa if Wayne Rooney is fully fit.

Rooney has been struggling in recent weeks with niggling injuries, although he is hoping to return to action for Manchester United before the end of the season. And Hurst believes England cannot afford for their star striker to be struggling when the tournament kicks off.

"Rooney is the one player that England cannot afford to be without," Hurst told reporters.

"Wayne, with the season he has had for Manchester United and England, needs to be playing. That would certainly be the case for the latter part of the tournament. You could get away with it in the early rounds, maybe, but to win it, you need your best players for the latter stages.

"He gives you that X-factor. He is one of the top players in the world now. He is at his peak and that is hard to replace.

"You can`t replace great players playing at their best. It is impossible."
Hurst is most famous for the hat-trick at Wembley in 1966 that won England their sole World Cup trophy to date, and the former West Ham United forward believes it is a tragedy that the Three Lions haven`t really been close to a second triumph ever since.

He feels 2010 must be the year when the country finally mounts another strong challenge, even if they face some stiff competition.

"It is hugely disappointment that we haven`t been closer to winning the World Cup than we have in 40 odd years, very disappointing," he said.

"I will be very disappointed, if we keep the team together and remain injury-free, if we don`t get at least to the semi-final.

"Anyone can get to a quarter-final. We`ve been there a couple of times. We are well-managed now, there is a lot of discipline in the squad.

"The big argument is: have we enough players in the squad to win six or seven games?

"We are capable of making the last four and, when you get to that stage, you are in the lap of the gods. You are up against the big boys - Spain, Italy and Brazil - and then you need an ounce of luck.