Wayne Rooney to captain England
Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney will captain England against San Marino in their World Cup qualifier at Wembley.
The 26-year-old has inherited the armband due to regular captain Steven Gerrard's suspension following his sending-off in the last qualifier against Ukraine and because of a knee injury suffered by official vice-captain Frank Lampard.
After that it was seen as a straight fight between Rooney and Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart for the honour, and the Football Association has now confirmed Rooney is the man.
He has captained England just once before, in a friendly against Brazil in Doha in 2009.
Rooney said at a press conference ahead of tomorrow's [Friday] game: "It's a great honour, it's something I'm really proud of.
"It's a big challenge for myself, I'm really looking forward to it and excited, and hopefully we can cap the day off with a good victory."
Rooney reiterated the need to show his best form for his country in what has been a chequered international career after an explosive start highlighted by his performances at Euro 2004.
He said: "Am I unfulfilled at international level? That is fair. I haven't been at my best for England and that is something I'm desperate to put right.
"I think us as a team and as a country, we need to be more successful and better in tournament football."
It is also 10 years since Rooney announced his arrival as an extra special talent with his wonder goal for Everton against Arsenal.
He said: "I think things have gone well and been successful. At club level I've won nine trophies and the only thing missing is being successful and to win things with England.
"That is what we are aiming to do. There are new coaching staff and a lot of young players have come into the squad and the future is bright for us.
"If we keep working hard and working together, I'm sure we'll have a great chance in the future of being successful."
Rooney admitted: "From my point of view, the first few years were the hardest to live up in terms of expectations.
"The first few years are the most difficult part to adjust your life.
"Now I'm not too concerned about it. I don't go out, I go to a restaurant with my wife and family and keep myself to myself."
England boss Roy Hodgson added: "I've enjoyed working with Wayne, we had a good Euros and I enjoyed working with him there.
"I was disappointed when he got that terrible gash and I was even worried it could rule him out of not only the September games, but also the October games.
"Luckily he's made a very quick recovery and now he's available for the games, and he'll certainly captain the team in the first one."
Hodgson was unwilling to offer any further insight into his team-sheet for tomorrow's meeting with the joint lowest-ranked team in the world, with speculation in some quarters that key men such as Ashley Cole could be rested ahead of Tuesday's clash with Poland.
"I haven't spoken to the players about the team," he said at the televised briefing.
"I guess Wayne Rooney realises he's starting the game because he's sitting alongside me as captain of the team.
"But I haven't told any other players who'll be playing and who won't be. Although I've got a pretty good idea in my own mind what I'm going to do, I can't divulge that on television until I've spoken to the players.
"It might be a question of utilising the squad in a different way because we have a very important game in Poland on Tuesday.
"Knowing that whatever team I choose at Wembley is likely to be able to win that game, how many players do I spare and keep fitter and fresher for the game on Tuesday? That's been the decision to be made."
Cole's Chelsea team-mates Lampard and Ryan Bertrand will definitely sit out the San Marino clash due to injury and illness respectively but Hodgson hopes both players could yet be fit to face Poland.
"Frank had a scan earlier in the week and tried to train apart from the team but do a bit more on Wednesday morning, and he still felt a slight problem with his calf," he said.
"It was re-scanned and they found a few fibres where there's been a slight tear. It's not a major problem but it was decided the best thing is to let him go back to his club to get treatment on a daily basis there, and we'll re-assess on Sunday.
"When Ryan Bertrand fell ill we were hoping it would just be one of those 24-hour things but it's turned out to be a bit more of a serious illness than that.
"It is purely illness and again, we hope to recover him on Sunday along with Frank."
Bertrand's illness was initially reported as merely a sore throat, prompting him to issue a clarification on Twitter featuring an expletive for which he later apologised.
And Hodgson said: "I think his sentiments were laudable, telling how much he wants to play for England and being a bit irritated that someone should suggest he doesn't play when he gets a sore throat, but his choice of words was wrong.
"I'm pleased to see he's apologised for it and it just reminds us how careful players of this profile have to be.
"I believe there's not really a question from the FA's point of view that he'll be charged but it's a lesson that needs to be learned and that we can all learn from."
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