Sven-Goran Eriksson is ready to defy Sir Alex Ferguson and play Wayne Rooney in the group stage of the World Cup.

Rooney will be in his kit and on the bench with the rest of the squad for tomorrow's game against Paraguay in Frankfurt.

He will not come on but the England manager will not rule out his involvement in the games against Trinidad and Tobago on June 15 or Sweden on June 20.

Eriksson will even consider playing Rooney from the start if he is convinced the striker is match-fit.

The Swede should brace himself for a critical reaction from Sir Alex Ferguson if Rooney returns for a group games and suffers any kind of injury setback.

United will even consider the possibility of legal action if Rooney is ruled out for any considerable length of time by an injury suffered during the World Cup.

The two managers spoke at length on Wednesday but could not reach an agreement on the matter.

Ferguson remains adamant that Rooney should not even be considered until the first knockout round on June 24 or 25.

This stand-off was the main reason for the long silence from United and England which followed Rooney's foot scan in Manchester.

The striker was back at the England hotel in Germany before United released a statement, claiming Rooney would be fit after the group stage.

The Football Association offered no comment until Eriksson spoke after yesterday's training session.

Eriksson said: "The good news is that Rooney has no more injury. He is injury-free.

"Now it's up to us to get him match-fit and, when we think he is match-fit, I am prepared to take in any specialist Manchester United want.

"I am prepared to listen to everyone and discuss it with them but the last say on this story is Rooney's and mine.

"I am doing this in the best interests of Rooney, the England team and 40 million England fans. I am responsible for it."

There seems to be no doubt among the medical experts that the metatarsal bone Rooney broke on April 29 has mended.

A greater potential problem lies in the fact that secondary injuries can occur if a player is rushed through his rehabilitation.

Ashley Cole suffered a thigh injury on his return from a broken foot this season and Ferguson will be furious if a similar fate befalls his best player.

Eriksson appears to have great faith in Rooney, who was back in full training yesterday, two days ahead of schedule.

Rooney, aged 20, has worked hard to stay fit during his time away from a football.

He was put through a double-session by England's fitness coaches on Monday and has even lost a couple of kilogrammes since the injury.

The striker's stamina levels are said to be high and the England coaching team will now focus on Rooney's sharpness without pushing him too hard and wearing him out.

Eriksson considers himself to be a better judge of a footballer's match-fitness than a doctor or a bone surgeon.

It is not, however, in the interests of the England manager to expose Rooney to the risk of a muscle injury on his comeback.

Such an outcome would not only invite criticism from Old Trafford but also damage England's World Cup chances.

Eriksson has always been confident that Rooney would make it back in time for the latter stages.

The England team could take the heat off of their manager by starting the competition well.

Wins against Paraguay and Trinidad and Tobago would ease the temptation to call Rooney back.

It would relieve the pressure on the Sweden match, on June 20, which is potentially England's toughest group game.

Eriksson could start Rooney on the bench against the Swedes if England did not need to win and use him only if qualification was ever in doubt.

This scenario would satisfy Ferguson because Manchester United's statement, released in the early hours of yesterday morning, was a coded warning to the England camp.

The club statement said: "The expert independent medical view is that Wayne has a good chance of being fit after the group stage.

"At that point, the expert independent medical view is that his participation in the tournament will require very careful assessment in order to address his suitability, as he will not have had the opportunity to play in less demanding games."

Ferguson will be invited to check on Rooney's progress.

So will Professor Angus Wallace, an orthopaedic surgeon from Nottingham University, who acted as an independent expert during Rooney's foot scan.

Wallace will be asked to examine the player again when Eriksson thinks he is ready to return to action.