JUDGING by the reaction to Wayne Rooney’s twisted ankle, you’d think England were being victimised by the gods of misfortune, that for some reason we’re being picked on.

Naturally there was a collective gasp of horror when the national treasure leapt in the air on one foot and went down as though he’d been shot by a sniper in Munich.

For the next 24 hours every news bulletin carried a picture of a hapless man on crutches, and every physio in the country worth his salt was being asked for a prognosis.

Even Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe was asked for his opinion and came up with what we would all have said: “He’s a great striker and England can’t do without him.”

But pre-World Cup injuries are not the exclusive dilemma of the English.

‘Paraguay’s Rooney’ is Salvador Cabanas. He was shot in the head a couple of months back and is lucky to be alive, let alone thinking of a trip to South Africa.

Surgeons have decided it would be too dangerous to attempt to remove the bullet, so it will probably be lodged there for as long as Cabanas is alive.

Then there’s ‘the American Rooney’ one Charlie Davies. He was involved in a fatal road crash recently and owes his life to the surgeons who carried out an emergency operation.

Twenty four hours after Rooney sparked widespread panic, Spain’s Cesc Fabregas went down under a challenge, ironically from the national captain Carles Puyol, and limped away from Arsenal’s Champions League clash with Barcelona on a broken leg.

His Arsenal colleague Robin Van Persie hasn’t played football for months after reconstructive surgery on his knee – not exactly good news for Holland – and their first World Cup final opponents Denmark haven’t seen anything of their most influential midfielder Christian Poulsen after he fractured a fibula.

Now even the coaches are in the wars with Diego Maradona needing stitches in his upper lip – which is fat enough at the best of times – after being attacked by one of his dogs!

No doubt there will be more hard luck stories between now and the kick off in Johannesburg on June 11, but don’t lets starting making excuses already by pretending we are the only country with an injury jinx.

I AM always grateful for the fact that I was never asked to play rugby league.

Perhaps it was the thick horn-rimmed spectacles that put off the coaches – or just my natural cowardice.

I’m not exactly blessed with good looks but at least I’ve never had my nose re-arranged or required a collar bone being put back into place.

Welsh international convert Gareth Thomas has been given a bruising introduction to the 13-a-side version of the handling code.

A superstar in the Valleys, he made his league debut for Crusaders against Catalans Dragons at Wrexham, and received his first pass in the opening minute of the game. Roughly 0.5 of a second later he was flat on his back with three hulking figures crushing the last breath out of him, and he never recovered, wincing his goodbyes to the crowd that had come to witness his epic debut well before half-time.

The following week at Castleford, the last ounce of super-stardom was probably knocked out of him by the printed team sheet which included replacement Gareth TOMAS – he’d also had the H knocked out of him in Wrexham.

Held back for 65 minutes, he eventually got a blow-out on the wing, and received just two passes. At least he didn’t drop the ball.

It’s going to take a while for Thomas to find his feet in the game, and no matter what anyone else might tell you, all the converts I’ve known down the years Lewis Jones, David Watkins, Terry Holmes, Jonathan Davies et al swear league is harder by far than union. I’m happy to take their word for it!

Two stories caught my eye last week – and they weren’t printed on April Fools Day.

One chap was fined £1,000 for selling bird’s eggs, and a great grandmother was fined £1,500 and tagged for allowing a 14-year-old to buy a goldfish from her pet shop.

Oh yes, and Gazza was arrested on a drink drive charge.

Nothing unusual in the continually disturbing story of a fallen star, but in the case of the egg-seller and the goldfish trader, how can these trivialities compare with people who take football clubs into billions of pounds worth of debut, or even the odd assassin on a pitch who puts an opponents livelihood into jeopardy, and get off scot free.

I’m voting for the Monster Raving Looney Party at the next election, then we might get a bit of sense in this country.