Steven Gerrard: I’m sure Wayne Rooney will behave himself
Steven Gerrard has no concerns over Wayne Rooney's attitude ahead of the England striker's return from suspension
Steven Gerrard has played down fears over Wayne Rooney’s temperament ahead of the England striker’s return to action against Ukraine on Tuesday.
Rooney was serving a two-game suspension incurred as a result of his red card for violent conduct in the final Euro 2012 qualifying game in Montenegro.
England captain Gerrard is looking forward to welcoming the talismanic striker back into the team for their final Group D game, where a draw will secure Roy Hodgson’s men a quarter-final spot.
And the Liverpool midfielder is confident Rooney can channel his aggression in the “right way” in Donetsk.
“Everyone knows what Wayne Rooney is all about,” Gerrard told a news conference. “He certainly makes us a lot more threatening going forward and he is a world-class player.
“I know Wayne quite well, I am very close to him and I can see in his eyes that he is itching to get out there and perform.
“Hopefully he can play very well tomorrow night and be the difference.
“I’m not going to tell Wayne not to be fired up for this game. That is what Wayne is all about, pressing, being aggressive in the right way.
“The reason he is world class is because of what he has shown up to today.
“Obviously we need him on the pitch. He is aware of that and he regrets the reaction when he got the suspension. I am sure he will behave himself well.”
Meanwhile, Ukraine striker Andriy Shevchenko has been given only a 50 per cent chance of being fit for Tuesday’s showdown after it was revealed he is struggling with a knee injury.
Coach Oleh Blokhin said: “It is hard to say whether Shevchenko will be fit but I would say his chances of being fit to face England are 50-50.
“There are still 24 hours to go before the game and we will do everything possible to get him fit. He is a big player for us and if he is unable to play it will be a big loss to us.”
Pre-match facts: England v Ukraine
• England won the nations’ two friendly meetings, starting with a 2-0 Wembley success in May 2000. Robbie Fowler and Tony Adams scored the goals. Steven Gerrard made his debut and Andriy Shevchenko and Anatoliy Tymoshchuk featured for Ukraine.
• The teams will meet again in qualifying Group H for the 2014 World Cup, England hosting Ukraine on 11 September with the reverse fixture on 10 September 2013.
• Ukraine’s only previous final tournament appearance came at the 2006 World Cup when they overcame a 4-0 opening loss to Spain thanks to victories over Saudi Arabia and Tunisia. They then beat Switzerland on penalties, before defeat by Italy in the quarter-finals.
• Their defeat by France in Donetsk means Ukraine have now not won in the six games they have played in the city, registering two draws and four defeats. They scored in only two of those fixtures.