ENGLAND captain Steven Gerrard is expecting Wayne Rooney to put off-field matters to one side and inspire another Euro 2012 qualifying victory tonight in Basle.
Gerrard believes that, following days of speculation about his marriage, Rooney will seize the chance to focus on football with both hands. Manchester United star Rooney turned in arguably his best performance for six months in Friday’s 4-0 win over Bulgaria at Wembley.
And Gerrard said: “Certainly, I wouldn’t want to be facing him in the kind of form he was in the other evening. But it is important we are not distracted by anything, not just the issue with Wayne Rooney. I am expecting another big performance from him. If you have got issues off the pitch, football can be a release and when the game kicks off you are totally focused on it. You have to push off-the-park matters to one side and only come back to them when a game is over but that’s the same for most footballers.”
Gerrard, a long-time international team-mate of Rooney’s, said he had kept his own counsel about his private life and shown no signs of distraction on the pitch. “I haven’t spoken to Wayne about his issues off the field because, to be blunt, they are nothing to do with me,” added Gerrard. “Wayne knows I’m here for him as a friend and also as a team-mate but he seems fine to me.
“He trained well yesterday and wants to play. I just hope he performs to the level as on Friday when he was superb. The team certainly need him to play at that sort of level if we are to get the three points”