Rooney adamant England forwards are best for decade

ENGLAND striker Wayne Rooney believes manager Roy Hodgson’s attacking arsenal is the strongest he has known during his decade with the Three Lions.

Rooney is expected to spearhead England’s frontline for tomorrow’s all-important World Cup qualifier against Montenegro alongside Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge, with Rickie Lambert, Jermain Defoe and Danny Welbeck left on the bench.

Since making his debut against Australia in 2003, Rooney has gone on to win 84 caps and believes the current competition for his shirt is the best he has known.

“It is great,” said Rooney, who is sixth on England’s all-time top scorer list with 36 goals. “It is probably the best group we have had since I have been in the squad.

“Rickie Lambert is scoring goals for Southampton and has done really well for England. Jermain and I have been around a bit longer and Sturridge and Welbeck bring a lot of energy. Overall, it is a really good blend.”

Rooney is one of the most experienced players in Hodgson’s relatively youthful squad charged with ensuring England reach the World Cup finals in Brazil next summer.

Captain Steven Gerrard will have a vital role to play in helping the players handle the pressure of the big occasion and Rooney believes there is no better man to do so.

“Steven has been one of the best in the world over the last 15 years,” he added. “We look to him to give us that drive. I think he got the captain’s armband a bit later than he should have.

“The experienced players have been there and done it. They can keep that calmness for us.”

IS ROONEY RIGHT? RECENT STRIKEFORCES

Euro 2004
Emile Heskey, Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney, Darius Vassell

World Cup 2006
Peter Crouch, Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney, Theo Walcott

World Cup 2010
Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe, Emile Heskey, Wayne Rooney

Euro 2012
Andy Carroll, Jermain Defoe, Wayne Rooney, Theo Walcott, Danny Welbeck

Euro 2004
Emile Heskey, Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney, Darius Vassell

World Cup 2006
Peter Crouch, Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney, Theo Walcott

World Cup 2010
Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe, Emile Heskey, Wayne Rooney

Euro 2012
Andy Carroll, Jermain Defoe, Wayne Rooney, Theo Walcott, Danny Welbeck