England talisman Wayne Rooney has insisted that a young, vibrant squad is capable of showing they have progressed beyond Italy in Saturday night's World Cup opener, while refusing to stop short of targeting winning the tournament outright.
Rooney is busy preparing for his third successive World Cup finals and at 28 himself as one of the key figures in a more youthful squad than in previous campaigns, with Roy Hodgson boldly selecting the likes of Raheem Sterling, Ross Barkley and Luke Shaw on form rather than reputation.
The Manchester United marksman is on the brink of a potentially defining month on the international stage and is adamant he is fully focused on delivering, declaring that he is in great shape and raring to go.
He told reporters at a pre-match press conference for the Italy clash: "I feel great. I feel 100%t fit, ready for this tournament, I'm not going to sit here and say expect this or expect that but I'll be giving everything I can to try to help the team.
"For me it is an honour to represent my country so many times. It is something I am proud to do and to be successful would be the icing on the cake.
"I think we have moved ahead of Italy in the last two years. The squad we have is youthful with a lot of energy and excitement. It will be interesting to see how we have moved on and progressed.
"The future is bright with so much ability and it is a joy to be part of the squad. I still feel I have a massive role to play. I think we can all be really excited.
Rooney also confirmed that Manchester United strike partner Danny Welbeck will be available for this weekend's Group D clash in Manuas.
Despite playing for the Three Lions in South Africa and Germany in previous World Cups the versatile forward is still looking for his first goal on football's biggest stage.
Rooney has vowed to make it third time lucky in South America, but was at pains to ensure his priority is to part of a successful side than claim any kind of individual acclaim.
"I want us as a country to be successful and I want to be successful with this team. It's not about me scoring or not scoring," he insisted.
"You have to enjoy these moments as much as you can and maybe I haven't done that in the last two World Cups but I will make sure I do it in this one."
Speculation is rife surrounding how England boss Roy Hodgson will set out his stall against the Azzurri on Saturday, with Rooney's position no different.
Finding the right attacking blend to get the best out of Rooney and Liverpool marksman Daniel Sturridge is the key, while Welbeck, Adam Lallana and bright spark Raheem Sterling are all hoping to provide a supply line in advanced wide roles.
England and Italy are familiar foes and at the very highest level creating any element of surprise is particularly difficult, but getting the best out of Rooney looks likely to make the difference between success and failure in a particularly difficult Group D.
Rooney is happy to take on the mantle of being an experienced figure in an England squad he described as the best he's ever played in earlier today, but make no mistake United's prolific forward knows his most important contribution will be on the field starting this Saturday.
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