Football

Gerrard: Rooney is big game player

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England skipper Steven Gerrard believes Wayne Rooney will be in the right frame of mind to shine in Tuesday's Euro 2012 qualifier against Switzerland.

Rooney will be back in action in Basle for the first time since allegations concerning his private life appeared in a Sunday newspaper. The Manchester United star has been in the spotlight for the past 48 hours and the behaviour expected of top players has been a constant source of debate.

Gerrard believes returning to play football can be a "release" for a player if he is encountering off-the-pitch problems. He said: "I haven't spoken to Wayne about his issues off the field because, to be blunt, they are nothing to do with me."

He added: "Wayne knows I'm here for him as a friend and also as a team-mate but he seems fine to me.

"The team certainly need him to play at that sort of level if we are to get the three points we are after. When he is on top form, he can score and create goals and win matches on his own."

Two years ago England set the benchmark for their World Cup qualification campaign with a 4-1 victory over Croatia in Zagreb.

In the same way, Switzerland represent England's biggest threat to qualifying automatically for the 2012 finals and they showed their pedigree with victory over eventual World Cup winners Spain in South Africa.

Gerrard said: "I think it will be difficult to get a 4-1 scoreline this time. Switzerland are a very good team, very organised defensively and difficult to score against.

"But we want to build on Friday's performance and we will go into the game full of confidence. Our target when we came together last week was six points.

"A draw against the Swiss would be a decent result but we want the three points."

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Topics:
Football
Premier League
Manchester United
Wayne Rooney
Steven Gerrard

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