Former England international Gareth Southgate believes England should still take Wayne Rooney to Euro 2012, even if the striker's appeal to reduce his three-game suspension is unsuccessful.
Fabio Capello is believed to be weighing up the value of taking the Manchester United forward to Poland and Ukraine if he were unavailable for all three of their Group D games against France, Sweden and Ukraine.
Rooney, who is set to line-up against FC Basel in United’s final Champions League group on Wednesday night, will be transported to UEFA headquarters in Nyon after the match ahead of Thursday's hearing.
Flanked by the FA’s own legal support team, the striker’s main hope centres around a similar situation prior to Euro 2008, when Arsenal’s Andrei Arshavin was only banned for the first two group games after getting his marching orders in a qualifier against Andorra.
But, regardless of the outcome of Thursday’s meeting, Southgate has no doubts that Rooney will be on the plane.
"I don’t think there is much debate. I think he will be going. If he’s fit he’ll be part of that squad," he exclusively told FourFourTwo.com
Rooney’s breakthrough onto the international scene occurred during England’s last European Championships appearance, in 2004, and he has since become an integral part of the national setup.
However, his disappointing displays at the 2010 World Cup, coupled with his act of petulance against Montenegro, have led many to wonder whether Rooney’s recklessness out-weighs his brilliance.
"If you’re looking at winning the tournament, I think you would need a player of his quality in the squad," said Southgate, who famously missed the crucial penalty in England's Euro 96 semi-final defeat to Germany.
"I’d be very surprised if [him being left out] was the outcome."
Capello’s men kick off their Euro 2012 campaign against France (as they did in 2004), before coming up against Sweden and co-hosts Ukraine.
While England are familiar with their Group D opponents, qualification is far from certain, but Southgate feels - injury permitting – Rooney will not be missed.
"In reality, to get through the group stages you'll probably use 15 players unless you were really unlucky with injuries, so you could certainly take somebody of his stature as part of that squad. I don't think it’s even a gamble."
Gareth Southgate was speaking on behalf of Carlsberg, The Official Beer of The England Team. Carlsberg will be giving away tickets to Euro 2012 throughout the season. Keep checking Facebook.com/CarlsbergForEngland for your chance to watch England in next summer’s EURO 2012™ Championships.
By Vithushan Ehantharajah
Barcelona's golden boy grabs the headlines again
It's Larsson Jr stealing the show these days
England striker puts pen to paper on permanent deal
The new season is but six weeks away (in the Football League)
Who would you rather have playing for your club?
12 months out, the stars look to the World Cup
Your questions answered by an A to Z of legends
75% of all TV is Bale
On the road to ruin
Adidas Nitrocharge for you
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010