SKIPPER Wayne Rooney concedes England cannot use inexperience as an excuse when the Three Lions take their first step on the road to Euro 2016 qualification in Switzerland on Monday.
The Manchester United forward donned the captain’s armband for the first time as England limped to a one-goal victory over Norway at Wembley on Wednesday night after naming five starters under the age of 22.
While England should barely break sweat in qualifying from a group containing Estonia, Lithuania, Slovenia and minnows San Marino, Rooney insists age cannot prove a barrier for Roy Hodgson’s youthful side.
“We know we have a young team but all of us have to stand up and make sure we can give ourselves a great chance of qualifying for Euro 2016,” said Rooney. “We will be ready, hopefully we can come back with a victory.”
Swathes of empty seats greeted England against Norway with a meagre 40,181 in attendance and television audiences were no better with almost four million more people preferring to watch the Great British Bake Off than Roy Hodgson’s men.
Rooney, who scored his 41st international goal against the Norwegians to go fourth on the list of England’s leading scorers, is banking on a rip-roaring European qualification campaign to win back disillusioned supporters.
“We understand that after the World Cup it is difficult for everyone,” added Rooney. “We have to make sure we do well in the Euro 2016 campaign to make those fans believe again.”