In May 2006 Rooney was stretchered off the field during Manchester United's 3-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge, following a challenge by the Chelsea full-back Paulo Ferreira. X-rays revealed a fracture of the fourth Metatarsal as well as one of the Tarsal bones of the foot.
The treatment of Metatarsal fractures varies depending on the type and location of the fracture. If, like Wayne Rooney, the fracture is due to direct trauma and the fracture fragments are well aligned then the treatment of choice is immobilisation and non-weight bearing for 6 - 8 weeks.
Immobilisation can be achieved using a plaster cast or a removable plastic cast. Wayne Rooney chose the removable plastic cast. This proved to be far superior, because the boot was able to be removed for physiotherapy treatment. Physio treatment was aimed at preventing stiffness in the ankle and foot. Rooney's cardiovascular fitness was maintained by performing non-weight bearing exercises in the swimming pools at United's Carrington training ground. This would not have been possible if a plaster cast was used.
Removable plastic casts provide compression which limits swelling and the rocker sole allows early weight bearing based on the guidance of the orthopaedic doctor. Research has shown that early weight bearing helps to speed fracture healing.
Rooney made a fantastic recovery. CT scans confirmed that the fractures had healed and after just six weeks he returned to action, coming on as a sub in the World Cup match against Trinidad and Tobago.