England captain Steven Gerrard has set his sights on a win tonight before the arrival of star striker Wayne Rooney at Euro 2012.
The Manchester United hitman will sit-out the clash against Sweden in Group D, having picked up a two-match ban for his red card against Montenegro in the Three Lions’ final qualifying game for the tournament.
That meant Rooney missed the draw against France on Tuesday, and is chomping at the bit to get involved in Poland & Ukraine.
Gerrard knows that defeat tonight would leave England in a precarious position to qualify for the quarter-final stages, and that victory is the way to lay a foundation for the former Everton forward to come in and make an impact.
"Wayne adds an awful lot of quality and skill to this team. If we can get a good win on Friday then get him back fit and raring to go, it is only going to improve things," Gerrard told the press ahead of tonight’s game.
Manager Roy Hodgson is also aware of the impact Rooney could have at the tournament, given the opportunity to make a meaningful impact going forward from the Urkaine clash next week.
The Rooney ‘fear factor’ could be key, in the eyes of the former Liverpool chief, but Hodgson will know that the first hurdle will be to get past Sweden.
"I am sure we will get better and I am sure even just a simple thing like the return of Wayne Rooney will make us into a stronger team and a bigger threat," he said.
"I am sure when opponents play us they would much rather see Rooney's name not on the teamsheet than on it."
Rooney scored 27 Premier League goals for Manchester United last season, as the Red Devils finished second in the English top flight during a rare trophy-less campaign at Old Trafford.
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