Wayne Rooney feeling 'fresh' for Iceland test at Euro 2016

Thursday 23 Jun 2016
Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney says he’s ready to fire England into the Euro 2016 quarter finals as they prepare to face Iceland on Monday.

The Three Lions skipper was rested by boss Roy Hodgson for England’s final Group B game against Slovakia earlier this week.

But the Manchester United man believes that can only be an advantage by the time the first knock-out tie for England comes around at the Stade de Nice.

England v Iceland

UEFA Euro 2016
Round of 16
8pm, Monday 27 June 2016
Stade de Nice, France
Live on ITV

"As a player, you want to play of course, but for me now going into the game on Monday I will be a lot fresher," said Rooney following Thursday’s training session in Chantilly.

"In terms of Roy’s decision, he’s the manager and I respect that.

"It wasn’t just me, there was five other players [left out] and it’s a decision that Roy had to make in terms of keeping players fresh for the knock-out stages and also believing in the squad of players he has got.

"And I agree, the squad of players are good enough and those who came in were good enough to win the game and we should have won the game.

"Unfortunately we didn’t but you have to give credit to our opponents, who defended really well but we’re through to the knock-out stages now so this is where it matters."

The Three Lions squad had to wait until Wednesday evening before they found out who their next opponents would be, when Group F was concluded in dramatic fashion thanks to a late winner for Iceland against Austria.

And with England’s preparation for the game now underway, Rooney has pinpointed one area where he wants to help the team improve when they face Lars Lagerback’s side.

England captain Wayne Rooney in training at Chantilly ahead of the game with Iceland.

Rooney in training on Thursday morning as England begin their preparations for Iceland in Euro 2016

"We do have to be a bit more ruthless and with the chances we’ve had, we need to take a few more of them, as we saw in the last game, if you don’t it can cost you a result," he admitted.

"Certainly going into the knock-out stages, we need to make sure we take full advantage of them. 

"It depends how it goes on the day, but we feel that we’re a good team and can play against teams who want to defend or teams who want to come and have a go at us.

"We feel we can change our game to plan for whichever team we play and everyone knows, it’s the business end of the tournament and we have to be more ruthless to go through in games.

"Although I think we’ve dominated games, we haven’t looked like losing so that’s always a positive sign but we have to make sure we take those chances.

"If we get that goal, an early goal against Iceland, they will have to come out at us which could suit us as well."

By finishing in second spot in Group B, England now know what their pathway though the competition will look like should they beat Iceland.

That includes a potential tie against France in the quarter final should the hosts beat Republic of Ireland on Sunday.

But Rooney refuses to accept England face a harder set of games than if they would had they finished in top spot in their group.

"For us, it doesn’t matter who we play," he said. 

"We know that if we’re to go further in this competition we’re going to have to beat some very good teams.

"As this tournament has shown, teams can beat each other and I’ve seen a lot of written words saying England will have to beat Iceland, then France, then Spain but who is to say they’re going to go through?

"Who is going to say that we’re going to go through? The tournament has drawn up a lot of surprises, so we have to concentrate on Iceland now and try and get the win and see who we play after that."

England's Wayne Rooney spoke to the media on Thursday afternoon

 


By Nicholas Veevers