Rooney allays Welbeck injury fears

Rio de Janeiro: England striker Wayne Rooney said Wednesday that he expects Manchester United team-mate Danny Welbeck to be fit to face Italy on Saturday despite an injury scare.

"Danny will be fine," Rooney told a press conference at England`s Rio de Janeiro training base ahead of his side`s World Cup Group D opener in Manaus.

"I`m sure he`ll be ready for Saturday. He`s just not risked anything today, but he`ll train on Friday and will be available for Saturday I`m sure."

British newspapers on Tuesday said Welbeck had been forced out of a closed training session with a thigh injury and he did not train with the squad on Wednesday.

Arsenal midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who is working his way back to fitness after damaging knee ligaments in a friendly against Ecuador, was also absent.

The Football Association has yet to comment on Welbeck`s status.

Beneath warm sunshine at the Urca military base, which looks out over Guanabara Bay, England players were put through possession and coordination exercises in the part of the session that was open to the media.

The condition of the pitch at Manaus`s Amazonia Arena has become a source of concern amid reports it is dry and has bare patches, but Rooney played down the matter.

"We`re not sure," Rooney said. "It`s the same for ourselves and Italy, so we`ll both have to deal with that."

An FA official has confirmed that a member of England`s back-room staff will inspect the pitch after the squad arrives in Manaus on Thursday.

England have also decided not to train at their FIFA-allocated training ground on Thursday and will instead train at the team hotel.

They will then train at the Amazonia Arena for the first time on Friday, 24 hours before facing Cesare Prandelli`s Italy.

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