KRAKOW: No more red cards for Wayne Rooney: Manchester United’s star striker has insisted that his eagerness to return to return to England action will not carry over into any more reckless behaviour out on the pitch.
On Tuesday England face the Euro 2012 co-hosts Ukraine in Donetsk on the last night of Group D with Rooney due to return after the two-match suspension prompted by his expulsion in the last qualifying tie, last autumn, in Montenegro.
Rooney was also sent off at the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany then lost his temper, visibly, with England fans during the 2010 debacle in South Africa.
After having collected only one only yellow card for club and country since last October, Rooney said: “What happened in Montenegrowas a mistake. I understood that and apologised to the guy.I’ve paid the price. I’ve had to take it but I have no problems with my attitude or my temperament. I’m happy and I’m ready to play.”
Rooney feared his suspension – originally three matches before a Football Association appeal reduced it to two – would cost him his place in England’s squad. He said: “When it was a three-game ban, I thought I probably wouldn’t be here.
“I’m looking forward to Tuesday’s match. It’ll be a big challenge because Ukraine will obviously have the majority of the support and the majority of the fans in the stadium. But we’ve been in this situation before; we’ve been to a lot of stadiums around Europe and around the world, and we’ve had to deal with this atmosphere on a lot of occasions.
“If you look at Turkey away nine or 10 years ago, it was as hostile as you’re going to get. So we understand there’s going to be a big atmosphere and it’s something we have to deal with. We’re big enough and experienced enough to deal with it.”
Rooney also sought to play down expectations of what he can add to an England team unbeaten in four games under Roy Hodgson.
He said: “There are 23 players in the squad and there’s pressure on us all. It’s great that we’ve scored a few goals and we’ve put the points on the board. I’m not going to win the Euros on my own. There are 23 players who are going to contribute to try to help us win the tournament or go as far as we can.”
England need only a draw in Donetsk to reach the knockout stage and Rooney added: “Hopefully, I get an opportunity to play and try to shine and help us get through the group.
“I think England are a massive football team, a massive football nation, but not just over the last four tournaments but maybe over the last 30-odd years, we haven’t fulfilled that potential. Our country needs to be winning trophies with the history of the country. Hopefully, it will happen this time. We’ve got a great group of young players there.
“If we have to take a point then we’ll happily do that but we’re going into the game to try to get the three points. We’ve got a big belief in ourselves. We believe we’re good enough to get through the group stages.”
Rooney, notably a cheer-leader in the crowd for the first two games, said he found watching more difficult than playing.
He added: “When you’re playing, you can always do something to try try to change the game. Obviously, sitting in the stands, then there’s nothing you can do.”
Fellow strikers Danny Welbeck – Rooney’s United team-mate – and Liverpool striker Andy Carroll both scored in Friday’s 3-2 win over Sweden in Kyiv but it is Carroll who will almost certainly make way for Rooney.
He refused to express a preference for his attacking partner, saying: I know Danny very well and play with him at club level and Andy has come in and done really well – he’s a big old fashioned No9. They are two very capable players of playing – and you mustn’t forget Jermain Defoe as well. Between us, there are four good strikers there.”
Rooney was also positive about Roy Hodgson’s managerial takeover from Fabio Capello, saying: “I think it helps everyone being English. There are no words lost in translation. The manager trusts his players, which is obviously a big help to the players. Under the other managers, there was an element of trust there.
“Roy’s come in and he’s obviously given us a lot of rest time as well and a lot of down time, and we understand what he wants from us.”
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