Derby boss Rooney, 35, is understood to have tackled midfielder Jason Knight in a practice game, and the fallout leaves his first-team star now facing up to 12 weeks on the treatment table.
The Telegraph have claimed that the challenge from Rooney was a ’50-50′ and simply an accident, but the bizarre situation is especially damaging in light of the club’s woes heading into the new season.
Knight picked up the setback during Derby’s pre-season camp at Pennyhill Park, a luxury hotel and spa in Surrey, with Rooney having taken part in the drill himself due to his lack of players.
In what has been a testing summer for the former Manchester United man, Rooney has just nine registered senior players on his books, and Knight’s absence has plunged them further into chaos.
On Tuesday, Sportsmail reported that the EFL eased the club’s transfer embargo, allowing them to sign free agents on one-year contracts or take players on loan for six months if they have fewer than 23 players ‘of a professional standing’.
Wayne Rooney faces more scrutiny at Derby County after it emerged he injured Jason Knight
Midfielder Knight (pictured) faces up to 12 weeks out following a tackle from Rooney in training
The incident between Rooney and Knight (pictured last season) has rocked the crisis-hit club
This has become even more of a necessity with Knight ruled out for a sustained period, and comes after Rooney made an open appeal to the club’s board at the weekend to add to his threadbare squad.
‘It’s other people, which I can’t control, who need to make bigger decisions,’ Rooney said. ‘All I can do is try to bring some dignity and pride back to this club. It is clear that has gone in the last few years and it is my job to bring that back.
‘I need other people to do their job. It’s not ideal, it has been very difficult not knowing what my squad will be in two weeks’ time when the league starts. However we can, we need to get that sorted.
‘If I am being honest, it would be easy for a manager in my situation to walk away. It’s a challenge for me, I’m a fighter. I am grateful to Derby for giving me this opportunity and I will do everything I can to get the club through this.
Rooney is seen taking a session on Monday with the pressure building ahead of the new season
Knight (seen high-fiving Rooney) ‘will be a loss’, according to Rooney following the setback
‘If we can’t bring players in over the next two weeks I don’t know how we field a team. I haven’t got one centre-back signed to the club, there are two very young players in the U23s and U18s. It would be impossible for me to field a team.’
Asked about Knight’s injury after Derby’s 2-1 friendly defeat by Salford, Rooney said: ‘Jason will be out for eight to 12 weeks. He has rocked his ankle. Thankfully, he doesn’t need surgery but needs the time to make sure he gets his ankle strong again.
‘Of course (it is a huge blow), everyone knows what Knighty brings to us, he is a fantastic player, great energy, and he will be a loss, but we have to deal with that.’
The spotlight has been firmly on Rooney in recent days after a number of photographs emerged appearing to show him asleep in a hotel room with three 21-year-old women. He alleges he was blackmailed.
Rooney told police he was blackmailed after photos emerged of him partying the night away (right) at the weekend, with one photo (left) showing him leaning in on one blonde woman
Rooney, a father of four who has been married to childhood sweetheart Coleen since 2008, reportedly joined the group of girls at a room at the Staycity hotel after a night out, as claimed by the Sun.
It has also emerged that he has been interviewed by an officer, having told police that there was a plot to blackmail him. MailOnline revealed that Rooney’s representative made a formal complaint over the incident.
One of the images shared heavily on social shows Rooney leaning in to a blonde woman at a nightclub in Manchester, although there is no suggesting of any wrongdoing on the former footballer’s part.
It is understood that the images were taken on Saturday night, on the first weekend that nightclubs across England were allowed to open after coronavirus restrictions were relaxed by the government.
Model Tayler Ryan is pictured with ex-England football ace Rooney while they were partying
Wayne Rooney has been with childhood sweetheart Coleen (pictured) for nearly two decades
Rooney had been out partying until the early hours after the loss against Salford, the Sun has also reported, and the women involved are said to have been shocked after discovering that the complaint was made.
The Telegraph say Derby officials have since spoken to Rooney at the club’s training base, and they will not comment while an investigation is ongoing.
Derby will begin their new campaign in the Championship at home against Huddersfield on August 7.
Sportsmail has approached the club for comment.