PLATINUM STARS (0) vs ENGLAND (3)
JERMAIN DEFOE admitted England are still struggling with the high altitude in South Africa – but insists his side are ready for their World Cup opener on Saturday.
The Tottenham striker was among the goals as England cruised to a 3-0 win over local side, Platinum Stars, in their final warm-up game in front of a 12,000 crowd at the Moruleng Stadium.
But although Defoe admits Fabio Capello’s men are still adjusting to life in Rustenburg, he says the practice match was perfect preparation for the opener with USA.
“It was a really good work out,” he said. “With the conditions, the altitude and the heat, it made it difficult, but it helped with the fitness for what is ahead. “You do notice the altitude here when you’re running around. It’s different, and we’re a lot higher here than we were in Austria but I’m sure we’ll get used to it in training. I don’t think we could be better prepared for a World Cup. I think everything we’ve done – the training, the fitness work – has been spot on.
“Everyone’s hungry. We want to win it. We’ll take each game as it comes, but I think we’ve got that winning mentality.”
Capello used 21 of his 23-man squad for this low-key run-out with Gareth Barry, who accepts he will now miss Saturday’s game with his knee injury, and goalkeeper David James, also nursing a knee strain, the two to miss out.
Defoe took just two minutes to break the deadlock before Wayne Rooney and Joe Cole – the only player to play the full 90 minutes – also netted after the break.
Rooney’s contribution was encouraging, yet he still mixed the good with the bad side of his personality after he received a second half booking for an ugly late challenge on Kagiso Senamela.
With that came a word of warning from coach Stuart Pearce, but strike partner Defoe says Rooney’s temperament is an asset to the side. “If under control, I think Wayne’s temper is a good thing. When you’ve got that fire in your belly as a player [it can be good]. If you take that away from Wayne, he won’t be the same player.”
Rooney added: “We are ready – these are preparation games for us for the big one now coming up on Saturday. I just can’t wait now. The sooner it comes, the better.”