London, July 8:

The decision to play Wayne Rooney as a lone striker in the quarter-final loss to Portugal may have contributed to his sending off according to injured striker partner Michael Owen.

The Manchester United star battled back from a broken bone in his foot to get back into Sven-Goran Eriksson’s lineup, but the Swede asked him to go it alone in front of a busy midfield.

In a tight match, Rooney caused the Portuguese problems but was sent packing shortly after half-time for stamping on defender Ricardo Carvalho although he claims there had been no intention on his part.

England fought on bravely to keep Portugal at bay during regulation play and extra-time but then went out on penalties.

In an interview to be shown during ITV1’s World Cup final coverage, Owen said: “You would suggest he’s probably only got angry because of what’s happened in the first hour of that game. It’s a frustrating role to play. Wayne Rooney is one of the best strikers in the world and you’re cutting one of his legs off if you’re playing just one up front,” quoted The Sun.