ENGLAND midfielder James Milner feels the squad’s four-day trip to Brazil has re-emphasised the importance of qualifying for next summer’s World Cup.
The Three Lions returned from South America yesterday after securing a 2-2 draw at the newly refurbished Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, which will stage next year’s World Cup final.
England are far from certain to reach the finals, as they sit second in Group H, two points behind Montenegro with four matches to play, knowing only the group winners qualify automatically.
However Milner, 27, believes missing out on playing in next summer’s showpiece is unthinkable.
“If you don’t want to play in a World Cup in Brazil after the last few days then you never will,” he said. “Playing a World Cup in Brazil, just being here for the last few days, I have seen the love they have for the game.
“They play head tennis and beach football every single day. You can sense the love and the atmosphere in the ground. It’s going to be some tournament next year.”
The form of one of England’s goalscorers in Rio, Wayne Rooney, could be pivotal to his country’s qualification hopes.
The Manchester United striker handed in a transfer request at the end of last season and his future at Old Trafford under new manager David Moyes seems uncertain.
And Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger admits he would be keen to bring Rooney to the Emirates Stadium, should he become available.
“It will be interesting to see how that will be handled,” said Wenger.
“Rooney could be an interesting player for everybody in the world, who would turn him down?”