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Wayne Rooney's Euro 2012 ban has been reduced to two matches

Wayne Rooney will be eligible to play in England's final group game at Euro 2012
Wayne Rooney will be eligible to play in England's final group game at Euro 2012

If you happen to be a Manchester United fan that also supports England, then this is likely the only bit of good news that has occurred from the past two days: Wayne Rooney's ban for Euro 2012 has been reduced from three matches to two. Therefore, the striker will be eligible to play in England's final group stage game versus co-hosts Ukraine and in the knockout stages if the Three Lions were to qualify.

Rooney received the ban after kicking Miodrag Dzudovic during a Euro 2012 qualifier versus Montenegro in October. The result was the striker being shown a straight-red and a ban that initially was to be for three matches. At a hearing in Nyon, Switzerland, England manager Fabio Capello took full responsibility for Rooney's sending off in Podgorica. Capello told a three-man panel at the UEFA headquarters that his striker was distracted due to the arrest of his father and uncle just prior to the match versus Montenegro. Wayne Rooney Sr and Richie Rooney were arrested by Merseyside police as part of an investigation into betting irregularities -- charges that both men deny. Capello told the panel that he realized that Rooney was not in the right frame of mind and that the striker should have been substituted off at half-time. The sending-off occurred in the 74th minute of that match.

After receiving notice of the ban, Capello stated that Rooney's selection into the squad for the Euro 2012 finals was not automatic and that the striker would not be on England duty in the lead-up to the tournament. It is now likely a safe assumption that Rooney will be on the squad now but whether or not he will be involved with England during upcoming friendlies is not known. For United, this was not a bad thing since his full focus was expected to be on club duties while he was momentarily relieved of England duty. Rooney will miss the matches versus France and Sweden in Group D but he will be available to provide a boost for the final group stage match versus Ukraine -- this could prove vital if England are in need of a result versus the co-host in order to secure advancement to the knockout stages. If England does advance, they could potentially have a relatively fresh Rooney for these knockout ties.