Euro 2012: 5 Reasons Wayne Rooney's Absence Won't Hurt England's Chances
After Wayne Rooney's petulant sending off and subsequent three match ban that tarnished England's qualification for the European Championship, the country's media has been extremely pessimistic about our chances at the finals.
Now that our so-called talisman has been ruled out of the opening three group matches, despair has struck the nation.
The debate now is whether the Manchester United goalscorer should even be selected for Fabio Capello's final squad that will compete in the Ukraine and Poland.
But there are many reasons why England fans should remain upbeat about the tournament this summer.
Everyone has been labeling Rooney's suspension as a national disaster without focusing on the positives that this turn of events will bring.
Here are five reasons why the England squad can still win their first major tournament since 1966 without Wayne Rooney.
Rooney's England Form Has Not Been Convincing for Some Time
Does Rooney even deserve to be called England's talisman?
There can be no doubt that at the top of his game for Manchester United, Rooney is unplayable.
But he has rarely recreated that form when he pulls on the white shirt, and he often looks unhappy to be playing for his country.
Rooney was abysmal at the World Cup Finals in South Africa, and he has never really redeemed himself to England fans on an international level since.
In the first half against Montenegro, he was completely ineffectual with his first touch often letting himself down.
With the exception of a pinpoint pass that led to the second goal, Rooney was lackluster in almost every department and crucially conceded possession which allowed Montenegro to halve the deficit.
There has never been a guarantee with Rooney that he will reproduce his Manchester United form while playing for Fabio Capello.
Fabio Capello Has a Wide Pool of Talent to Choose from
Even without Rooney, the competition for places in the England attack is fierce with many options available to Capello in the striking department.
Darren Bent has been among the goals for England recently and is always a threat in the opposition penalty area.
Ashley Young has hit top form for club and country and is set for a landmark season at Old Trafford where he has the chance to cement his reputation as one of the world's top wingers.
Andy Carroll has yet to justify his hefty £35 million price tag for Liverpool, but this giant of a center-forward offers something completely different to Capello and should not be discarded.
Meanwhile Adam Johnson, Stewart Downing, Theo Walcott and James Milner are all competing for a place in England's front line.
Youthful Hunger to the Squad
Fabio Capello has shown a willingness to experiment with younger players since the World Cup which has seen veterans such as Frank Lampard lose their regular place.
This youth movement has seen younger players establish themselves as first team regulars hungry to achieve success on an international level.
Phil Jones and Chris Smalling have both been given opportunities on defense, and Rio Ferdinand will have his work cut out if he wants to earn a spot ahead of his two younger United teammates.
Jack Wilshere's injury has come at a bad time for Arsenal as he has already proved that he can be the heartbeat of that team in midfield.
But when the little playmaker returns, he should slot straight back into the England team as he has already shown maturity beyond his 19 years.
Three other wonderkids that are working their way up through the ranks at club level are Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Sturridge and Welbeck are both in top form and have managed to establish themselves as regulars with Chelsea and Manchester United respectively, while there are many clamouring for Oxlade-Chamberlain to make the Arsenal first team.
It is rumored that Capello has his eye on all three of them, and these three may benefit from Rooney's moment of madness.
Steven Gerrard announced his return from injury on Saturday with a wonderful free kick goal against Manchester United.
The Liverpool talisman and skipper looked his old self against United which bodes well for England.
The main issue with Rooney's suspension is the lack of a deep-lying center-forward that can link up with and play off the main striker.
But this is a role that Gerrard perfected for Liverpool forming a lethal combination with Fernando Torres.
What is to say that "Stevie G" cannot fill in for his friend effectively in the hole behind the strikers?
If Gerrard is able to hit top form once again ahead of the finals then England may not need Rooney at all.
Less Media Focus on the Big Stars
There is no guarantee anymore that Frank Lampard and Rio Ferdinand will make the England starting lineup.
Rooney's suspension means that yet another big star has fallen from the international limelight which will give England's youthful and hungry side a chance to prove themselves.
The media focus and pressure on the big stars before major tournaments is always immense, and the lack of these world-class players may be beneficial.
Spain controversially dropped established stars such as Raul and Fernando Morientes ahead of their European Championship campaign of 2008 with younger stars such as Torres and Villa preferred.
Spain has gone on to become the best side in the world and the favorites to win a third successive tournament in 2012.
Could the same approach from Capello lead to huge rise in England's star?