England striker Wayne Rooney has warned Saturday’s World Cup opponents Italy: “underestimate us at your peril”.
Italy dumped England out of the 2012 European Championship via a penalty shootout, though had outplayed Roy Hodgson’s team during a goalless 120 minutes with midfielder Andrea Pirlo their star turn.
Two years on, questions are still being asked as to whether England will cope with Pirlo’s Italy in Manaus, but Rooney insists it is the Azzuri who should be concerned about them.
“Italy should be looking at how they control our team,” said the 28-year-old.
“We are not really focused on Pirlo. He’s been a fantastic player and Italy have some great players, but they should be more worried about our team.
“It is probably the best squad of players I have been involved with since I have been with England.”
Forward Danny Welbeck took no part in training yesterday having suffered a thigh injury on Tuesday, but Rooney reported: “He will be fine”.
Rooney’s own condition had been in some doubt ahead of the tournament, after the Manchester United man missed the conclusion of the Premier League season with a groin injury.
The form of the 28-year-old, who has failed to score in two previous World Cups, has also seemingly put his starting place in jeopardy, but Rooney insists he still has plenty to offer on the biggest stage of all.
“I’m ready for this World Cup,” added Rooney, who has scored 39 goals in 92 internationals.
“There is competition for places, but I’m ready for that. I’m not worried.
“The manager has got a job to do and whoever he picks I will respect that and try to do my best for the team.”
England fly to Manaus today and are expected to train in the Arena Amazonia tomorrow.
The condition of the pitch in the recently constructed 39,000-seater stadium has been of concern, with the grass damaged. However, Rooney insists the surface is not a concern.
“It’s the same for ourselves and Italy,” he said. “So we’ll both have to deal with it.”