Brazilian legend Pele believes it could be “dangerous” for England to take Wayne Rooney to the World Cup if the striker is not fully fit.
Coach Sven-Goran Eriksson is confident Rooney will play in Germany after he started some ball work on Friday.
“It concerns me to hear that England may take Rooney,” Pele told the Daily Telegraph newspaper.
“It’s dangerous to take a player whose fitness is in question. It can disturb the way the coach chooses his team.”
Pele drew a parallel with the dilemma Brazil faced in 1998 when Ronaldo played in the World Cup final against France despite clearly not being fit.
“He played in the final even though he had been taken ill on the day of the game and Brazil lost 3-0,” added the three-time World Cup winner.
“The World Cup lasts only four weeks. You need players who are at the top of their game, which includes their fitness.”
Pele added: “England have plenty of other big-match players such as David Beckham, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard. They are not a one-man team.”
Rooney has been recovering well from the metatarsal injury he suffered five weeks ago on the penultimate day of the Premier League season.
A scan next Wednesday, 7 June, will determine the rate of his recovery and whether Eriksson will retain the 20-year-old in his squad for the finals.