England captain Steven Gerrard feels Wayne Rooney’s form will be crucial to the team’s chances of qualifying for World Cup 2014.
The Manchester United striker struck his 35th international goal on Tuesday against Montenegro in a 1-1 draw, which kept Roy Hodgson’s unit second in Group H.
England lead Poland and Ukraine by four points, having won three and drawn three of their six fixtures, and trail Montenegro by two points who are sitting pretty at the top.
The build-up to the match was dominated by talks of Rooney’s red card against Montenegro in the previous fixture between the two sides and the type of reception he would get from the crowd.
The 27-year-old though came up with the perfect response, firing his side into the lead in the sixth minute. Dejan Damjanovic obliterated the deficit in the second period, forcing both the sides to settle for a point.
And Gerrard hoped that Rooney would continue with his goal-scoring form, as he feels that the striker holds the key to their World Cup prospects.
The skipper also heaped praise on Rooney’s behaviour in the match, saying that he handled all the pre-match talk professionally.
Speaking to reporters post-match, Gerrard said: "Wayne is a fantastic player and a great goalscorer. If the lads in the team can create the service for Wayne, we know he will score goals.
"He also deserves credit for that goalscoring record. Hopefully he will get more goals and fire us to the World Cup.
"I also thought his behaviour was magnificent. He had been on the agenda in the press all week with people wondering how he was going to behave. I thought he handled himself magnificently and got us that important goal."
Gerrard was also left ruing his side’s lacklustre second-half performance, but refused to rule out their chances of topping the group.
"There is an element of frustration there but this result is not the end of the world. It is still in our hands," Gerrard added.
"We are disappointed with periods of the game but we are also very happy with the first-half performance. If we can get that for 90 minutes, we believe we can still qualify.
"We will have to wait and see how the other teams do in their fixtures but we are more than capable of winning the last four matches."
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